October Glory Vine

Skyrail Nature Diary: October 2006

Being October, it is very apt that we take this opportunity to showcase the simply stunning, October Glory Vine (Faradaya splendida: Lamiaceae).

This is a large, energetic, fast growing and spreading rainforest vine, which is best known for its beautifully fragrant, white flowers.

Although the flowers are short-lived, they appear on the vines in abundance and can be seen throughout October and the latter part of the year.

Up to 6cm across, the flowers have four spreading lobes and large protruding stamens: they are very popular with many of the region’s butterflies, including the Common Oak Blue (Arhopala micale ssp. Amphis), Common Tit (Hypolucaena erylus teatus), Pale Ciliate Blue (Anthene lycaenoides) and Eone Blue (Pseudodipsas eone).

The October Glory Vine is a member of the Verbenaceae family, which comprises about 100 genera and 2,600 species of herbs, shrubs and trees, characterised by a common theme of quadrangular twigs and / or aromatic herbage.

Found growing in wet lowland and upland rainforests, and open forests, from Ingham to Cape York Peninsula in north-east Queensland, the October Glory can also be found in some regions of Papua New Guinea.

It grows voraciously in its native environment, preferring areas where it can enjoy a lot of sunshine. For this reason, it is often seen draped across the rainforest canopy and along the sides of the many of the region’s rainforest-fringed roads.

Its leaves are large, up to 30cm long, and a distinctive glossy green. In fact, the splendida component of the vine’s latin name refers to the sheen on its lage, tapered leaves.

The stunning clusters of flowers will gradually be replaced by the October Glory Vine’s fruits, which are about 8cm long, white, egg-shaped and sometimes potato-looking. Each fruit bears a single seed, which is covered with a stringy substance and encased in an inedible flesh.

The October Glory’s bark is rich with saponin, which is a rapid fish poison. The Aboriginal people used the bark to assist with collecting fish. For the Aboriginal people, the October Glory was also considered an ‘indicator’ plant, when it fruits, it is an indicator that the Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) nests would have eggs in them.

This species can be easily propagated, either through fresh seed or from cuttings, however, due to its voracious growing capacity, it is not recommended for small gardens, as it has the potential to completely take over.

Photo courtesy of CSIRO.