Commersonia echinata J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.
Muntingia bartramia L.
Commersonia bartramia is a shrub or small tree with a fairly open crown, that usually grows 5 - 10 metres tall in Australia, but can reach 25 metres in New Guinea where it can develop a straight bole up to 10 metres long and 45cm in diameter[
The fibrous bark is valued by native peoples, who use it for a wide range of purposes[
]. An attractive tree, it is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
E. Asia - Malaysia, through Indonesia to Australia and the Pacific Islands.
Common understorey or sub-canopy tree of secondary and dry forest and patches of forest or thickets in grassland; occasional in garden and fallow areas, where it is an important pioneer species[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Commersonia bartramia is a plant of the subtropics to the tropics, where it can be found at elevations up to 800 metres[
]. Trees are rather frost-sensitive[
Often found in the wild in both in brown clay-loams or white sand soils[
A fast-growing tree[
Plants can flower all year round in some parts of its range[
The roots are used medicinally in Fiji[
A fast-growing, natural pioneer species in its native range, often appearing along the sides of roads[
]. It regenerates quickly, and is often found in abundance after disturbance such as a forest fire or road building[
The fibrous bark has many applications. The fibre is used as cordage for fishing lines, nets, baskets, belts, girdles, headbands etc[
]. A great deal of crushing is necessary to extract the fibre because the bark contains a very large quantity of mucilaginous matter, which is exceedingly difficult to remove either by hot or cold water, but which, however, can be removed by alkalis. The fibre is very long, and not interlaced; it is very strong when moist, but becomes hard and breaks more readily when dry; this is owing to the glutinous matter, which remains in it and dries hard, A thorough and complete crushing seems absolutely necessary before it can be cleaned[
The bark is used to make bark cloth in Melanesia[
]. Strips of the bark are used as a crude rope to carry produce and firewood, and for lashing in construction[
The light wood is used to start fire by friction in the Solomon Islands[
The white wood is light in weight, soft and close-grained[
]. It is used in light construction, for fishing floats etc[
]. Small poles and sticks from the tree are used to stake yams[
The wood is a fast-burning firewood[
] and makes a useful fuel[
Seed - tiny and long-lived. Best sown as soon as it is ripe, it can be germinated by blending the whole capsules, then covering the mix with almost boiling water (making sure it cools down quickly enough not to cook and kill the seed) and then sowing the resulting fibrous mass[
Cuttings strike quickly and easily[
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