maturing plant

Natural populations

Macaranga tanarius occurs north of Lismore in New South Wales, along the entire coast of Queensland, coastal Darwin and Arnhem Land and into south-east Asia. As a pioneer plant, it grows in or near coastal rainforest, often common in secondary regrowth on areas of cleared rainforest [14, 43].

Flowering and seeds

Macaranga tanarius typically flowers in spring, summer and fruits mature in summer. The fruit is fleshy and is eaten and dispersed by birds [90]. Fresh seeds sown with adhering pulp have a germination rate of about 50% in 24-72 days; the seed behaviour is orthodox [111], although viability is reputed to be poor in ambient conditions [117].

Cultivation and uses

In Australia, the tree is of mainly ornamental use in landscaping for its large rounded leaves [109]. In south-east Asia, the tree has many uses including for food additive, fuel, fibre, glue, and tannin for toughening fishing nets [111].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 950-4000 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer
Mean annual temperature: 17-27 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 26-34 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 6-22 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): frost free or more or less frost free
Altitude: 0-800 metres
Tolerance of extremes in climate
Drought: known to be drought sensitive
Wind: tolerates salt-laden coastal winds
Soil factors
Texture: clay loam, loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam or sand
Soil pH reaction: acidic (less than 6.5)or neutral (6.5-7.5)
Soil depth: moderate to deep (30-100 cm or greater)
Drainage: well-drained
Salinity: slightly to moderately saline
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in texture: sand
Salinity: moderate (-8 dS m-1) (?)
Soil waterlogging tolerance: nil - sensitive to waterlogged soils
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: shrub or small tree less than 5 m tall
Longevity: short-lived less than 15 years
Growth rate: fast
Coppicing ability: vigorous, responds to pruning, pollarding (?)
Root system: shallow and spreading or forms root suckers (?)
Erosion control potential: excellent for sandy sites
Windbreak potential: tolerates salty coastal winds
Shade tolerance: grows best in full sunlight
Potentially undesirable attributes
Weediness: high potential based on its biology


[14] Stanley TD, Ross EM (1983 to 1995) Plants of South-East Queensland. Volumes 1-3, Queensland Government, Brisbane.

[43] National Herbarium of New South Wales (2008) PlantNET - Flora of New South Wales. (Online resource) (Accessed: February 2008).

[90] Flynn S, Turner RM, Dickie JB (2004) Seed Information Database (Release 7.0, October 2006). (Online database) (Accessed: July 2007).

[109] Brisbane Rainforest Action & Information Network (2007) Brisbane Rainforest Plants database. (Online resource) (Accessed: February 2008).

[111] World Agroforestry Centre (2008) Agroforestry database. (Online resource) (Accessed: February 2008)

[117] NSW coastal plant profile (Online resource) (Accessed: February 2008).

Internet links

PlantNet NSW Flora Online – species description & distribution:

Rainforest species database:

NSW coastal plant profile:

Agroforestry Tree Database: