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Thursday, May 19, 2011
CHEESE TREE ( BUTTONWOOD ) - INFORMATION - POSSIBLE ANTI-CANCER TREATMENT
The Cheese tree gets its name from its seed capsules which look like small cheeses-of the miniature kind, with a manufactured red rind. Actually they look more like little pumpkins or squashes. The Cheese tree is native to Australia and New South Wales in particular. It is an evergreen rainforest tree with a spreading crown. It usually grows to around 10 metres tall, although it can reach 30 metres, and live for more than 60 years. It can resprout after bush fires, and flowers at any time of year, with the seed pods ripening between November and February.
The name Glochidion comes from the Greek glochis meaning protruding point or the barb of an arrow. It got the name Ferdinandi as it was named in honour of Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich von Mueller (1825-96) who was the first government botanist of Victoria. There are around 200 species of Glochidion and these were classed as Euphorbiceae, although they have now been moved to the Phyllanthaceae family, the plants of which typically have seed capsules which explode, ejecting the two flattened seeds in each of the capsules segments. This species is spread through the tropical regions of the world and occur in tropical Asia, the Pacific Islands and Malaysia with a few in tropical Africa and America. They typically have triterpenoid saponins, sesquiterpenoids, glycosides and alkaloids which vary from one plant to another.
The Cheese Tree had a surprise for scientists though as they found two new xanthones in it and in the outer bark there is a “new” fungal metabolite Trichodermamide C which seems to have cytotoxicity actions on colorectal carcinomas and human lung carcinoma. The bark is flaky and grey-brown, and the tree is fast-growing, with the cheeses starting off green then turning white-pink, changing to deep red when fully ripe. These are a favourite of birds, including the Australian King Parrot, which cracks open the seeds capsule to get at the seeds inside. Some other birds eat the whole pod. The tree attracts butterflies and other insects including ladybirds which feed on the aphids it hosts.