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Seashore and Beach Plants

Melastoma affine

Blue Tongue Harendong Melastomataceae
 

 Blue Tongue, harendong, Melastoma affine

 

Melastoma affine

 Blue Tongue, harendong, Melastoma affine

Melastoma affine, also known by the common names Blue Tongue or Native Lassiandra ,Nekkarika in Kannada, is a shrub of the Melastomataceae family. Distributed in tropical and sub-tropical forests of India, South-east Asia and Australia, it is a plant of rainforest margins. Bees are the principal pollinators of this species.
It is found as a shrub to 2 m (7 ft) in height. The leaves are ovate and measure 6 to 12 cm (2.4-4.8 in) in length, and 24 cm (0.8-1.6 in) wide. Covered in fine hair they have longitudinal veins. Appearing in spring and summer, the flowers occur on the ends of branchlets and are purple with five petals and sepals. There are two sets of distinctive stamens, five opposite the petals and five opposite the sepals. The antisepalous ones in particular have very large long anthers with a bilobed appendage at their base. The purple fruits are edible and stain the mouth blue, thus the common name.
Melastoma affine is found from India through southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia and into Australia. Within Australia, it is found from the Kimberleys in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory and Queensland, and reaches as far south as Kempsey on the New South Wales mid north coast. It grows in wet areas in sclerophyll forest.
M. affine is important as being a pioneer species that colonises disturbed wet-sclerophyll and rain forest habitats in the Australasian region. It produces no nectar - giving pollinators large amounts of pollen instead, which must be extracted through pores on the anthers. Melastoma affine is pollinated by bees, particularly Xylocopa bombylans, X. aff. gressittii , Amegilla anomola and Nomia specie Honeybees outcompete native bees for pollen at flowers, impacting on the species' reproduction.

M. affine is a known hyperaccumulator of Aluminium, and as such can be used for phytoremediation.

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