Malvaceae Info (Home)
Maxwellia is a monotypic genus endemic to New Caledonia. It has been placed in Durioneae, but ndhF cpDNA sequences show it to be an aberrant member of the Lasiopetaleae, a group otherwise almost confined to Australia. (Commersonia bartramii, one of the few other species found outside Australia, which has a range running from South East Asia through Northern Australia to Polynesia, is also found in New Caledonia.)
Maxwellia is also a genus of Muricid snails.
The sole species Maxwellia lepidota Baillon, is a shrub found in the sclerophyll forests of New Caledonia. It has alternate foliage. The stems are tomentose and ruddy. The leaves are broadly cordate-ovate. They are 3-nerved at the base, and otherwise symmetrically or assymmetrically pinnately veined. The upper surface is initially red, becoming yellowish, before maturing to a glossy green, marked by the prominent white to pinkish veins. The lower surface is tomentose and of a ruddy brownish colour, with veins of a similar colour.
The flowers are borne in terminal clusters. The peduncle, petioles and underside of the calyx are tomentose. Both the calyx and corolla are relatively flat. The calyx consists of 5 (rarely 4 or 6) cream ovate-acute sepals, free for most of their length. The petals are yellow, oppositisepalous, ligulate, much smaller than the sepals, and deciduous. The stamens are short, borne in a ring, around a conical (stigmatic?) axis.
The fruits are winged.1
© 2003, 2004 Stewart Robert Hinsley