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Coachwood

Ceratopetalum apetalum See leaf Drawing
Cunoniaceae
Coachwood
Common

In the forest, this handsome tree can be distinguished by its smooth, lightgrey to white bark, with low ridges running around the trunk. There are often whitish, encrusting lichens on the trunk and, on very large trees, the base of the trunk may have rough, dark bark. The common local name for this tree is Leatherjacket.

The species can be identified by the leaves, which are opposite, about 3 times as long as broad, with up to 40 small teeth along each edge. The leaf stalk is swollen where it joins the leaf base and, on close examination, a line can also be seen across the leaf stalk at this point.

The flowers are without petals, but have 5 petal-like "sepals", which start out white then gradually turn pink to reddish-brown and harden as the fruit ripens. Coachwood is a close relative of the NSW Christmas Bush, Ceratopetalum gummiferum. During January and February, in most years, some red patches of ripening Coachwood "flowers" (actually fruit) can be picked out in the canopy of a rainforest patch. In some years, large areas of the canopy will be dark pinkish-red.

The seed ripens about March. The whole fruit is planted fresh, covered very lightly and kept damp. They should germinate within a month.

Distribution: Batemans Bay (NSW) to McPherson Range (Qld).