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Clerodendrum tomentosum facts for kids

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Downy chance
Clerodendrum tomentosum Denistone.jpg
Downy chance - Denistone, New South Wales
Scientific classification
Genus:
Clerodendrum
Species:
tomentosum

Clerodendrum tomentosum, known as the downy chance, hairy lolly bush, hairy clairy or hairy clerodendrum is a shrub or small tree occurring in eastern and northern Australia. Distributed from Batemans Bay (35° S) in southern coastal New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, and New Guinea.

The habitat is the margins of warmer rainforests of various types. It can survive in certain areas of under 1000 mm average annual rainfall.

Name and taxonomy

The curious common name of "downy chance" alludes to both the generic and species names. The generic name Clerodendrum was coined by the father of modern taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus. Clerodendrum is from the Greek, literally meaning "allotment tree" ("clero" being allotment and "dendros", tree) while "tomentosum" refers to downy or hairy leaves. Recent phylogenetic studies have shown that the genus Clerodendrum belongs in the mint family. Consequently, this species has been removed from the verbena family and placed in Lamiaceae.

Description

Up to 15 metres tall with a trunk diameter of 25 cm, though usually much smaller. An opened branched plant with large veiny leaves.

The trunk is mostly cylindrical or sometimes flanged at the base. Bark is grey or fawn, somewhat scaly or corky on larger plants. Young branchlets have lenticels, and are downy and soft. Angled or square in cross section, brownish grey and sometimes purple at the tips.

Leaves

Opposite on the stem, without serrations, 4 to 14 cm long, 2 to 4.5 cm wide. With a short tip, leaf form gradually tapering away at the base of the leaf. Upper leaf surface sometimes hairy. Hairy under the leaf, soft and downy to touch. Pale green below the leaf, darker above. Leaf veins prominent on the underside, visible on the top surface. 5 or 6 main lateral veins, curving near the leaf edge.

Flowers and fruit

White flowers form in dense heads between the months of October to January. In the form of cymes forming terminal corymbs. Four long stamens protrude from the fragrant flower.

The fruit is a black shiny or navy blue drupe with four lobes. Surrounded by a fleshy red calyx. The red and black of the fruiting body attracts birds, such as the satin bowerbird. Drupe size is 5 to 8 mm, the width of the red calyx is up to 20 mm. Flowers pollinated by nocturnal moths. The fruit is not edible for humans.

Slow to regenerate from seed, though it can strike from cuttings.

Uses

The attractive flowers and fruit make this suitable to native gardens in Australia. A bird and butterfly attracting plant. A pioneer species in regeneration areas.

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