Carallia brachiata is not a rare species in our area but it can be easily overlooked amongst dense creek-bank vegetation. Fortunately it’s often ‘flagged’ by a bright yellow caterpillar poised conspicuously on a dark green leaf (photo above). These distinctive caterpillars of the Four o’clock Moth Dysphania numana rarely feed on other trees, so they are a convenient aid for identifying Carallia brachiata.
During NPQ outings to Cleveland Creek we’ve seen Carallia brachiata (Rhizophoraceae) as a small tree, both along the upstream section of the creek and downstream. However, as its common name Freshwater Mangrove suggests, this species doesn’t extend into the inter-tidal zone. And in less crowded situations, Carallia brachiata grows taller and develops a fine shady canopy like this specimen in Cairns (photo below).
Carallia brachiata has oval leaves that are glossy dark green on the upper side and dull light green underneath (photo below).
Carallia brachiata produces clusters of small greenish-cream flowers (photo below) that develop into globular red fruits (photo second below) relished by many birds.