Plant of the month 05/2024: Xylomelum scottianum

Photo: Russell Cumming

For our May outing to the lower slopes of Bluewater Range, the first objective was to find Xylomelum scottianum. The species is commonly called Woody Pear although it is quite unlike edible pears that originate from Europe and Asia (Pyrus species).

Photo: Russell Cumming

Xylomelum scottianum (Proteaceae) is endemic to northern Queensland, occurring from Townsville to the tip of Cape York. However, it is not abundant anywhere and it tends to blend in amongst other open forest trees (photo above).

Photo: Russell Cumming

Sharp-eyed experts in our group quickly found several Xylomelum scottianum, noting the diagnostic needle-pointed leaf tips of mature trees (photo above) while seedlings have spiky holly-like leaves (photo below).

Photo: Julia Hazel

Xylomelum scottianum bears short spikes of small cream flowers (photo below) in a distinctive arrangement technically described as a ‘conflorescence’.

Photo: John Elliott

The flowers are followed by hard woody fruits (photo below) that split to release winged seeds. Xylomelum scottianum seeds usually germinate readily but the species is rarely seen in cultivation, probably because the seedlings tend to be very slow growing.

Photo: Malcolm Tattersall