T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Homalanthus populifolius (Queensland poplar)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Omalanthus
Species: H. populifolius
Binomial name: Homalanthus populifolius
Synonyms: Omalanthus populifolius, Amalanthus populifolius
Common name: Queensland poplar, Bleeding heart tree, Poplar leaved omalanthus.

Homalanthus populifolius is an Australian rainforest plant. It often appears in areas of rainforest disturbance. It is also found in Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, New Guinea and Indonesia, and has been widely planted elsewhere. In New Zealand, South Africa and Hawaii it is regarded as an invasive species. It produces large amounts of seed which are spread by birds, water, and machinery. It is also shade tolerant and will form a shade canopy under which native species can not develop. It invades bush margins, waste places and roadsides.

Homalanthus populifolius is a pioneer species of small tree or shrub, up to 5 meters tall and 15 cm in diameter.
The trunk is cylindrical with greyish brown bark, fairly smooth but with some bumps and irregularities. Branchlets appear thick, reddish or green. 
The foliage is soft and dark green in colour, alternate leaves are heart shaped, have smooth margins, and are very large on young plants; they range from 3 to 20 cm long, 3 to 12 cm wide. The leaves turn red with age before falling, hence the common name of ‘Bleeding heart tree’.

Small separate male: stamens 4-10; perianth segments 2 and female flowers: 2 styles and a 2 -celled ovary are borne in September to December on long drooping racemes >17 cm long. The flowers are followed by a dark coloured, fleshy, two lobed capsular fruit with an oily yellow aril. They ripen in late summer and the have an explosive cover.

A Homalanthus populifolius sapling.


The terminal bud.


An axillary bud developing in the axil.

The flower's long drooping racemes
  

A saplings leaf.
 

A red leaf just before falling.