Focus on Flora - Cunjevoi Alocasia brisbanensis
  • Last updated:
  • 02 Dec 2022

This is the largest local member of the Arum family Araceae. Its large lush deep green leaves grow up to 0.5m long, adding a tropical twist to the landscape. This fleshy herb grows to 1 – 1.5m on the Sunshine Coast.

Being this big and lush requires plenty of moisture, hence it is often found along slow moving creeks, shady wetlands and in rainforests where it is protected in the shade or the drying effects of the wind.

There is a story I often see referred to – traditional Indigenous medicine advocates Cunjevoi as a cure for Stinging Tree Dendrocnide spp. stings. However, while this may be okay if you are a skilled practitioner of Indigenous medicine (most of us aren’t), the sap on its own can be very irritating and may just take the edge off the Stinging Tree by causing its own inflammation! I’ve witnessed a very severe reaction to the sap from the leaves on a fellow bush regenerator and after witnessing that experience, give me Stinging Tree any day!  Do not put any raw part of the plant in your mouth as it contains potent irritants that can cause swelling of your throat – not good.

Now before you give Cunjevoi too wide a berth, let’s focus on the positive. The tall white/cream/green arum flowers have a lovely perfume and attract pollinating insects. The flowers are followed by clustered bright red fruit, which given everything else I’ve said about this plant, do not eat them, they’re just for the birds! They are a great plant for boggy shady areas, one of the few local plants that really thrive in these conditions.

Cunjevoi’s heart shaped leaves will always have a special place in my heart, and are an essential part of the understorey in the very moist sections of rainforests.

Article by Spencer Shaw, Brush Turkey Enterprises