Calamus australis

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Calamus (KAL-ah-muhs)
australis (aw-STRAH-liss)
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Scientific Classification
Genus: Calamus (KAL-ah-muhs)
australis (aw-STRAH-liss)
Calamus amischus
Native Continent
Habit: Clustering
Leaf type: Pinnate
Survivability index
Common names
Lawyer Cane, Wait-a-while, Hairy Mary.

Habitat and Distribution

Calamus australis is endemic to Queensland, occurs in CYP, NEQ and southwards to south-eastern Queensland.
Hunter Region Botanic Garden just north of Newcastle and Sydney. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.
Altitudinal range in northern Australia from near sea level to 1600 m. Grows in gallery forest and well developed lowland, upland and mountain rain forests on a variety of rock types.
Hunter Region Botanic Garden just north of Newcastle and Sydney. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.


This climbing palm has numerous recurved hooks on the leaf sheath and base of the pinnate leaf. The long whip-like flagella to 3 m long also bears numerous hooks. Fruit white, scaly to 1 cm diameter. A climbing palm with hooked whips. The fruits are whitish. The stems of the leaves are covered with prickles. Editing by edric.

Stem: A slender vine not exceeding a stem diameter of 2 cm. Vine stem smooth and glassy. Leaves: Compound leaves up to 1 m long or longer. Leaflets 34-40 in each compound leaf. Leaflet blades sessile, about 6-30 x 1-3 cm, margin usually finely toothed, venation longitudinal and parallel with 7 veins obvious. Each compound leaf ending in a single deeply bilobed leaflet or two opposite leaflets. Compound leaf axis with numerous straight spines on the upper surface mainly towards the base and many recurved spines on the underside. Sheathing base of the petiole densely clothed in straight spines. Tendrils arising from the sheathing bases of the petioles and armed with recurved spines. Flowers: Inflorescence up to 1-2 m long attached to the sheathing leaf base opposite the compound leaf petiole. Male flowers: Flowers densely packed, each about 3 mm diam. Outer tepals about 2-3 mm long, fused towards the base. Inner tepals about 3-4 mm long, free from one another. Stamens 6, each filament about 1 mm long, anther about 1 mm long. Pollen yellow. Rudimentary styles present. Female flowers: Flowers not densely packed in the inflorescence at anthesis. Young inflorescences consist of female and sterile male flowers. The sterile male flowers are aborted so that the mature inflorescence contains only female flowers. Outer tepals about 2-3 mm long. Inner tepals about 2-3 mm long. Staminodes 6. Ovary about 2 mm long. Styles 3. Ovules one per locule. Fruit: Fruits +/- globular, about 15 x 10-11 mm, clothed in diamond-shaped, shingle-like scales. Stylar remnants often persisting as a 3-armed anchor-like structure at the apex. Seeds depressed globular, about 8-10 mm diam., base flattened with a crater-like depression in the centre. Embryo plug-like, about 1-1.2 mm long. Seedlings: One cataphyll produced before the first true leaf. First leaf pinnate with 6 leaflets, second leaf pinnate with 4 leaflets. Leaflets narrowly elliptic, crowded on a short rhachis. Compound leaf petiole armed with several spines about 3 mm long.


Comments and Curiosities

It is related to the Asian rattan palms that are used to make furniture.

External Links


Phonetic spelling of Latin names by edric.

Special thanks to Geoff Stein, (Palmbob) for his hundreds of photos.

Special thanks to, Dr. John Dransfield, Dr. Bill Baker & team, for their volumes of information and photos.

Glossary of Palm Terms; Based on the glossary in Dransfield, J., N.W. Uhl, C.B. Asmussen-Lange, W.J. Baker, M.M. Harley & C.E. Lewis. 2008. Genera Palmarum - Evolution and Classification of the Palms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. All images copyright of the artists and photographers (see images for credits).

Many Special Thanks to Ed Vaile for his long hours of tireless editing and numerous contributions.

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