Alpine Cheese Tree
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Alpine Cheese Tree
P Native Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Alpine Cheese Tree
Botanical name: Glochidion nubigenum    Family: Phyllanthaceae (Amla family)
Synonyms: Phyllanthus nubigenus, Glochidion velutinum var. nubigenum

Alpine Cheese Tree is a tree, 5-8 m tall; branchlets velvet-hairy or tomentellous, becoming hairless in age. Leaves are broadly elliptic to oblong-elliptic or ovate to ovate-lanceshaped, pointed, rounded to flat at base, cuspidate, caudate or tapering at tip, 6-15 x 2.5-6 cm, papery to leathery, sparsely hairy on major nerves to hairless above, and more or less glaucous beneath; lateral nerves 4-8 pairs; leaf-stalks 2-6 mm long. Male and female flowers are borne on the same tree. Male flowers have flower-stalks 8-12 mm long, hairless; sepals obovate, 2-2.5 x 1.5 - 2 mm; anthers 3, about 1.5 mm long. Female flowers have flower-stalks 1-2 x 0.7 - 1.2 mm; sepals broadly elliptic, nearly round or obovate, 1-2 x 0.5-1.5 mm; ovary depressed, 1-2 mm in diameter, 3-5-locular, styles 3-5 variable. Fruits are somewhat flattened spheres, 3-4 x 8-10 mm, 3 - 6-locular, prominently lobed with the lobes more or less deeply bilobulate, hairless, stalks 3-10 mm long. The fruits look like spherical cheeses, hence the common name. Alpine Cheese Tree is found in the Eastern Himalayas, in Nepal, Sikkim, NE India, Bhutan, Myanmar, China and Thailand, at altitudes of 1500-2400 m. Flowering: April-November.

Identification credit: Hussain Barbhuiya, Prashant Awale Photographed in Pelling, Sikkim.

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