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Parsonsia straminea (APOCYNACEAE) - Monkey Rope, Silk Pod

Plant and foliage

Parsonsia straminea - Silk Pod, Monkey Rope
Photo: Robert Whyte

Parsonsia straminea is a climber (vine) with opposite leaves, watery-milky sap. Climbs by means of roots which form sporadically along the stem of the plant which grip the trunk. Widespread and common in most types of rainforest and sclerophyll forest north from Mt Dromedary, NSW.

The stems grow to considerable diameter (over 10cm) and the vine can climb up to 40 m into the canopy. The vines live to great age and are capable of pulling down trees. Possums nest in older vines.

The seed capsule is a linear pod, to 20 cm long by 10 mm wide. Seeds have a plume of several long silky hairs to help their dispersal. Common in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest in eastern New South Wales and Queensland.

Apocynaceae: Family name for the dogbane family; from the Greek apo (away from or away with) and kuon (dog) Pronunciation: a-pos-ih-NAY-see-ay


Photo: John Abbott

The small pale yellow, fragrant flowers are borne in panicles at the ends of the stems or in the leaf axils. Individual flowers are pubescent, with a tube 3 mm long and 5 spreading or recurved lobes 4 mm long.

Flowers provide nectar for a variety of insects including, bees, wasps, butterflies and beetles.

Host plant

Common Crow
Common Crow butterfly. Photo: Mark Crocker

Host plant for the caterpillar of the Common Crow butterfly (Euploea core).

Lepticoris spp (Soapberry Bugs) opportunistically feed on the nectar.


Photo: Matt Tomkins

Juvenile leaves are much smaller than the adult leaves and are purplish underneath. Adult foliage can be dark green, light green, or variagated by means of blotches.

Lower surface paler, veins finely reticulate and raised on both surfaces, especially in dried leaves.