Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Parsonsia purpurascens

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah - April

Common name black silkpod
Scientific name Parsonsia purpurascens J.B.Williams
Family  Apocynaceae

Genus: Parsonsia - for James Parsons (1705-1770), an English physician and Fellow of the Royal Society.

Species: purpurascens - Latin for purplish. Stems and leaves often exhibit this colour.

Common name: silkpod - refers to the elongate seed capsules produced by members of this genus and to the long, silky hairs attached to the seeds. Black - probably refers to the colour of the leaves of this species when dried.

Distribution The genus, with some 130 members, occurs from South-East Asia east to the Pacific. Australia has about 22 species, mostly tropical and east coast with a few from dry inland areas. P. purpurascens grows in cooler rainforest; from the plateau west of Wollongong to Dorrigo, usually from 900 to 1150 metres altitude.
Native habitat Temperate rainforest (sometimes with Nothofagus moorei, Antarctic beech or Ceratopetalum apetalum, coachwood) and in tall eucalypt forest.
Description Leaves firm, of moderate thickness, the coarser reticulum visible, no intramarginal vein present; dried leaves purple or purplish black on both surfaces; apex acute or acuminate with a small stiff point; corolla lobes spreading, not hood-shaped.
Flowering/fruiting Mostly summer and autumn.


Australia Woodland bed AW196 and naturally occurring in the Blue Mountains, along with two other Parsonsia species.


Confused in the past with Parsonsia leichardtii and still listed in some texts as Parsonsia species A.

This rainforest climber adapts well to cultivation in pots where its mass of small, cream flowers can be easily admired.

In the wild, plants may flower well above head height.


Parsonsia purpurascens

Parsonsia purpurascens