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This small family has a restricted distribution, in central South America and from south-east Asia through Malesia to northern Australia, where one species, Saurauria andreana, is restricted to rainforests of coastal north Queensland.

Characteristic features of the family Actinidiaceae in Australia include:

  • leaves large, oblanceolate, obovate or elliptic, hairy, with strands of xylem spiral thickening that are pulled free when a petiole is snapped
  • flowers white or pale pink, 5-partite with numerous stamens
  • ovary superior, purple, fleshy


Evergreen trees or shrubs or woody vines. Stem internodes solid, spongy, pithy or hollow. Internal secretions not obvious. Plants with simple, non-glandular, unicellular hairs. Leaves alternate and spiral, petiolate. Stipules absent. Lamina simple, symmetric, oblanceolate, ovate or rarely elliptic; base cuneate; margins serrate; venation pinnate, with the midrib conspicuous, and the tertiary venation reticulate; surfaces not punctate; herbaceous. Plants with all the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences axillary, consisting of panicles, cymes or solitary flowers. Bracts absent. Bracteoles present. Flowers stalked. Perianth regular, of 2 dissimilar whorls, imbricate in bud. Calyx segments fused, with 4 or 5 lobes, cup-shaped or bell-shaped, herbaceous. Corolla segments fused, with (4) or 5 lobes, alternating with the calyx lobes, wheel-shaped or bell-shaped, white or pink, membranous; lobes notched, emarginate to bilobed. Fertile stamens numerous, not clearly correlated with the calyx lobes, free or at least partly fused to the corolla, free of the ovary and style, grouped or fused into bundles or fused by their filaments into an open or closed tube, all ±equal. Anthers dorsifixed, versatile, opening terminally by pores, by short slits or by longitudinal slits; 2-celled. Ovary superior and sessile. Carpels 35, fused; ovary with 35 locules. Style terminal, single, unbranched or branched above or from the base. Ovules numerous per locule, stalked; placentation axile. Fruit a dry denticidal or irregularly dehiscent capsule, or a fleshy berry, dehiscent or indehiscent; the perianth on the maturing fruit deciduous, dry and persistent, or becoming larger. Disseminule micro-surface ±reticulate, brown, dull. Seeds numerous per fruit. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight or curved.
(Note: this description has been generated from the coded data compiled for the key. Any errors in the key data will be reflected in the descriptions.)

A treatment of the family Actinidiaceae has not yet been published in the Flora of Australia. It will appear in Volume 6.

Australian genera of Actinidiaceae (as recognised for the Flora of Australia)


Saurauia andreana (flower)
Photo: B.Jago B.Jago 

Saurauia andreana (flowers)
Photo: B.Hyland CSIRO