Arytera divaricata (SAPINDACEAE); Coogera, rose tamarind

Arytera divaricata trunk - Kenneth McClymont  2002
Arytera divaricata trunk - Kenneth McClymont © 2002
Usually a small shrubby tree around 5-8m tall, can be 20m, has been seen up to 36m, common in littoral, dry, subtropical and tropical rainforest from the mid north NSW coast to North QLD. As an understorey plant in shade, it can be only 3-4 m.

Leaves are compound, alternate with 4-7 pinnate ovate leaflets from 5-10cm long.

Flowers are small cream loose, sparsely branched panicles from November to April

Fruit is a yellow capsule enclosing a brown/black seed surrounded by a red fleshy aril and occurs from June to October . Fleshy red aril is common in Sapinds, an adaptation to attract fruity-eating birds.

A tough small, slow growing tree suitable for suburban gardens. It has spectacular flushes of limp reddish new growth which slowly turns pale green as it matures. Found in coastal areas, makes a splendid plant for coastal gardens, thriving in full sun and salt winds. It's attractive foliage casts a deep shade. Will not do well in cooler areas.

Fresh seed germinates readily but has a short viability, and initial growth is slow.

One common name, gap axe refers to the extremely hard wood of this species, known to break the steel heads of axes. The Aboriginal name Coogera is most widely used. Aril of fruit is eaten by rainforest frugivores.

Divaricata from Latin “divaricatus” spreading asunder at a wide angle, in reference to the few struggling branches of panicles.