Alectryon Gaertn.



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New Trees

The 25 species of Alectryon occur in the Philippines, eastern Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, New Caledonia, and in the Pacific from New Zealand to Hawaii (Edwards & Gadek 2001); only A. excelsus from New Zealand is known to be cultivated in our area. They are trees or shrubs with terete branchlets and evergreen paripinnate leaves. The leaflets are in one to eight pairs, opposite to alternate, pubescent to glabrous, with margins entire to dentate, serrate or crenate. Inflorescences are axillary, paniculate, racemose or thyrsoid. The flowers are unisexual or rarely hermaphrodite; the calyx has four to six lobes, the lobes pubescent on both surfaces; the petals, four to five (sometimes absent), are as long as or shorter than the calyx lobes; the (five to) eight stamens have hairy filaments. The fruit is a dehiscent capsule with a smooth or slightly warty surface; in several species, the capsule is brightly coloured. The single seed is black and partially covered by a bright red aril (Leenhouts 1988).

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The red aril surrounding the black seed of Alectryon excelsus forms a striking advertisement to the birds that disperse them. Image R. Lucas.

Species articles