fruit, foliage

Natural populations

Mallotus philippensis grows north of theHunter River in New South Wales, along the coast of Queensland, the Darwin coast and is also through the warmer regions of Asia including India. Plants grow mainly in microphyll to notophyll rainforests and vine thickets, but are frequently found in gullies or on ridges in open forest especially at rocky sites with some fire protection [31]. No variation is recorded for this species.

Flowering and seeds

Mallotus flowers and fruits throughout the year [31], although the main season for producing fruits is in summer. Germination is only successful if sown from very fresh seed, although it is reported to be often poor due to factors such as drought and insect attack affecting seed quality [109, 111]. Seed is remarkably short lived for a pioneer species [109].

Cultivation and uses

The wood is suitable for tool handles and building [31]. The granules which cover the ripe fruit are used in India as a dye ('kamala') for dyeing silk and wool bright orange, although is now rarely used as a dye as it is much too expensive to compete with synthetic dyes [111]. It has medicinal uses in India [111].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 700-3000 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer
Mean annual temperature: 15-26 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 24-34 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 2-23 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): 3. greater than 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C)
Altitude: 10-850 metres
Tolerance of extremes in climate
Drought: known to be moderately drought tolerant
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
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: skeletal to shallow (less than 30 cm)
Drainage: well-drained
Salinity: non-saline
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen shrub or small tree less than 5 m tall, tree 5-10 m tall, usually produces a clear trunk
Longevity: short-lived less than 15 years
Growth rate: moderate
Coppicing ability: vigorous, responds to pruning, pollarding
Root system: moderate to deep
Windbreak potential: tolerates salty coastal winds
Shade tolerance: grows best in full sunlight or tolerates partial shade
Potentially undesirable attributes
Fire sensitivity: killed by severe fires (seeder)


[31] Forster PI (1999) A taxonomic revision of Mallotus Lour. (Euphorbiaceae) in Australia. Austrobaileya 5(3): 480.

[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)

Internet links

PlantNet NSW Flora Online – species description & distribution:

Rainforest species database:

Agroforestry Tree Database: