Daintree Rainforest Native Plants

Written by melissa monks
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Daintree Rainforest Native Plants
The Daintree Rainforest dates to 135 million years ago, around the time Australia became a continent. (Australia image by persefone from Fotolia.com)

The Daintree Rainforest in North Queensland, Australia is one of the world's oldest rainforests. The rainforest dates to 135 million years ago, when the ancient land mass Gondwana began to separate into what are now the continents in the southern hemisphere. In 1988 the Australian government declared the Daintree Rainforest a World Heritage Area in order to protect the ancient environment. In fact, 12 of the world's 19 primitive plant families are found in the Daintree.

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Idiot Fruit

Only discovered in 1970, the idiot fruit is one of the most primitive and most rare plants on Earth. Known by the scientific name Ideospermum australiense, the idiot fruit has nutlike, apple-sized fruits that are highly toxic. Thought to be as old as the rainforest itself, around 135 million years, the tree is largely responsible for the designation of the Daintree as a World Heritage Area.

Blue Quandong

The blue quandong is named for its olive-sized, deep-blue fruits that are a favourite among wompoo fruit doves, cassowaries and musky rat-kangaroos. The tree itself is also impressive; it grows to 117 feet tall and is covered in slender, curved, green leaves.

Wild Ginger

Wild ginger grows to about 19 feet high. Some wild ginger can be toxic, but this ginger is actually beneficial. When cut near the bottom of the stem, water runs out, which can be a lifesaver for a lost hiker.


This flowering vine is found nowhere else in the world. It uses trees to climb up to 50 feet to the top of the rainforest canopy. Its leaves are a peculiar blue-green colour and it has spiralling flowers with pale green petals. One of the most interesting things about this vine is that its flowers don't smell sweet; in fact, they smell just like rotting fish.

Copper Laurel

Copper laurels are primitive trees that evolved before bees and butterflies; because of this they are pollinated by beetles. The beetles are attracted to the tree's foul-smelling flower. Interestingly, the copper laurel has a complex system to ensure it is not self-pollinated. The flowers close up at night and in the early part of the day, the female parts of the flower are exposed. During the afternoon and evening, the female parts close up and the male parts, or stamens, are exposed.

Fan Palm

The fan palm or, Licuala ramsayi, has evolved a highly specialised method of protecting itself from inclement weather. When cyclones rip through the forest, the circular, drooping fronds fold up so that they won't be stripped by high winds. The stems of the plant are also flexible and can easily withstand a cyclone.

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