Only the Sloanea
Published 11 September 2023
Like tropical regions everywhere, the forests of New Guinea are home to a broad range of plant species. Among these are various species of Sloanea, a pantropical genus of small to large trees belonging to the family Elaeocarpaceae. Sloanea species can be readily recognized by their fruit, which are woody, thick-walled capsules that split into regular sections at maturity. A number of Sloanea species are partially or entirely deciduous, and fruit commonly persist on the bare stems after leaves are lost. Among the Sloanea species peculiar to New Guinea are those that have been assigned to the section Anoniodes.
Nine species were assigned to section Anoniodes by Coode (1981), found in various parts of New Guinea and the neighbouring islands of the Bismarck Archipelago. One of these species, S. sogerensis, was subsequently recorded from the Moluccas by Coode (1983). Anoniodes species are distinguished by flowers with petals similar in appearance to the tepals, and most or all anthers fertile. Fruits commonly bear a covering of coarse spines. The seeds are more or less enclosed in a fleshy, brightly coloured aril. Leaves are solitary with a long petiole but may be pinnate in young plants. The base of the petiole is often associated with leaf-like stipules that may grow several centimetres long in some species.
Species of section Anoniodes may be found in a variety of habitats, from the coast to the mountains, in both primary and disturbed forest. Larger species may grow up to 40 metres in height and have buttressed trunks. I haven’t found any direct reference to the Anoniodes species being utilised by humans, but the wood of other species of the genus is used elsewhere. Species of Sloanea generally produce a hard, attractively pale wood, and I see no inherent reason why Anoniodes should be any different.
Coode, M. J. E. 1981. Elaeocarpaceae. In: Henty, E. E. (ed.) Handbooks of the Flora of Papua New Guinea vol. 2 pp. 38–185. Melbourne University Press.
Coode, M. J. E. 1983. A conspectus of Sloanea (Elaeocarpaceae) in the Old World. Kew Bulletin 38 (3): 347–427.