Botanical Name: Melastoma affine
Species: M. affine
Common Names: Blue tongue or Native lassiandra
Aboriginal name(s): Dhumulu (Yolngu)
Habitat: 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.
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 species. Honeybees outcompete native bees for pollen at flowers, impacting on the species’ reproduction.
Blue tongue is found as a shrub to 2 m (6.6 ft) in height. The leaves are ovate and measure 6 to 12 cm (2.5 to 4.5 in) in length, and 2–4 cm (1–1.5 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 antesepalous ones have long anthers with a bilobed appendage at their base. It produces 8mm long purple fruits that split open to expose a redish to purple flesh with many small seeds. The common name “blue tongue” refers to the edible purplish-black pulp within the fruit capsules which stains the mouth blue.
Blue Tongue flowers continually throughout Spring and Summer, producing showy mauve to purple flowers that last just a few days before small black berries begin to appear.
Edible Uses: This sweet fruit is best eaten fresh, and offers a fun and messy novelty for children.
Medicinal Uses: Significant medicinal uses are not found.But the fruit has lots of health benifits.
A fast-growing and adaptable shrub, Melastoma affine is sometimes seen in cultivation. It can be propagated by seed or cuttings.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.