Clerodendrum floribundum R.Br. 1810
pronounced: kler-oh-DEN-drum flor-ih-BUN-dum
(Lamiaceae – the lavender family)
common name: Lolly Bush
There are about 400 species of Clerodendrum, mostly tropical and sub-tropical. There are a few in temperate Asia, Africa and America, and quite a few species in China. Clerodendrum floribundum is found in Queensland, the Northern Territory, and in New South Wales as far south as Taree, along streams and in open forest.
The name Clerodendrum comes from two Greek words, κληρος (kléros), fate, or chance, and δενδρον (dendron), a tree. I have seen two explanations of how Fate comes into it. One suggests that it is due to the uncertain medicinal qualities attributed to some plants in the species, and the other suggests that these trees were once in a species named Fortunata. I have not been able to verify this latter suggestion. Floribundum simply means ‘flower-bearing’.
The common name ‘Lolly Bush’ is also a bit of a mystery. I have seen it suggested that the fruit may have been an Aboriginal confectionary.
The plant is a tall shrub, which can grow into a conical (Christmas tree) shape where it has the space. When crowded by other trees and shrubs, it becomes straggly.
The flowers have a long corolla-tube up to 4.5 cm long with five lobes, spreading. Its four stamens are much exserted. The fruits are weakly 4-lobed, on top of a spreading calyx. Flowers are often parasitized, when they appear short and fat.
The fruit is a drupe with four one-seeded pyrenes. Both the drupe and the calyx are green at first, but as the fruit ripens the sepals turn crimson, and then the drupe turns purple. Birds are attracted to the fruits.
The caterpillars of the moth Coenotes eremophilae feed on this plant.
The wood is a pale yellowish brown in colour, close-grained, soft, and easy to work. It shrinks fairly evenly when air dried. It machines very nicely, sands well, and takes a good finish if a sanding sealer is used. The indigenous peoples used it for making fire sticks and pipes.
Sir Joseph Banks, in his The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768-1771 (Volume 2) made a sketch of a Clerodendrum floribundum found on Palm Island.
Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.
Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2007-2009
Page last updated 27th October 2016