So many of our amazing local rainforest plants are poorly served by their common names, such is the tree we are talking about in this article, Synoum glandulosum subsp. glandulosum – otherwise known as Scentless Rosewood. For this species the descriptive word ‘scentless’ alludes to an inadequacy, as in, “There’s the real Rosewood and it smells great, and then there’s this other Scentless Rosewood that doesn’t have much of a scent….”. This is a bit of an unfair comparison for this rather stunning small tree, and it deserves a name all of its own rather than being a poor cousin!

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The bright green and reddish new growth of Scentless Rosewood (header) and its distinctive fruit and seeds (above).

Synoum glandulosum is endemic to the rainforests of eastern Australia and is the only representative of this Genus this far south. Its family is Meliaceae, which sees it related to the more diverse genera of Toona, Melia and Dysoxylum. It is generally smaller than other local emergent rainforest trees such as the cedars and rosewoods. Scentless Rosewood grows to only about ten metres high on forest edges, but in regrowth but can attain a height close to 20 metres as it gets drawn up by the surrounding forest.

Leaves are pinnately compound, alternate and can vary between 10-22 cm in length. Foliage is generally very dense and can retain branches low to the ground, making it a great species for sealing forest edges. Flowers are white to pale pink, they are present in winter and potentially pollinated by moths and flies. The fleshy 3-valved fruit are orange when they ripen in late spring and spilt to reveal an orange-red aril with a brown skinned fleshy green seed within. A wide range of birds including pigeons, bowerbirds and currawong are attracted to the fruit.

The seeds of Scentless Rosewood germinate readily when the aril is removed (perhaps even within a fortnight) and can grow rapidly during the warmer months of the year. It is a great addition to most rainforest plantings.

Spencer Shaw Land for Wildlife member Owner, Brush Turkey Enterprises Reesville, Sunshine Coast

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