Where Does the Idiot Fruit Grow?
The Ribbonwood commonly known as the Idiot Fruit, (Idiospermum australiense), also known as the Green Dinosaur has to be one of the most fascinating natural wonders to be found in the Daintree Rainforest. One of the rarest and most primitive of the flowering plants in the world, dating back to over 110 million years old! Its discovery in 1970 was arguably Australia’s most significant botanical find, greatly increasing scientist’s awareness of just how ancient these forests are.
These huge trees hold large brown fruits and the seed is highly poisonous, It produces the chemical Idiospermuline making this one of the few fruits that no rainforest bird or animal can tolerate. The tree’s only seed dispersal method is gravity. Therefore, distribution is limited. As a result, this plant occurs in very localized pockets of lowland tropical rainforest and around water catchment areas.
The tree was first discovered in 1902 by German botanist Ludwig Diels who documented and collected its flower and took it back to the Berlin Herbarium. But that specimen was destroyed in a fire in 1943 caused by a bombing raid by the Allies. For several years botanists failed to recognize the tree’s uniqueness, arguing that Diels’ discovery was merely a garden plant that had somehow made its way into Queensland’s wet tropics. With simple leaves and cream-to-rose colored flowers high in the canopy, indeed the tree was hard to distinguish from any other average evergreen.
The Daintree Rainforest is estimated to be 180 million years old which is tens of millions of years older than the Amazon Rainforest. This natural wonder is home to thousands of species of birds and other wildlife including 30% of Australia’s frog, reptile and marsupial species in Australia, 65% of the country’s bat and butterfly species as well as 18% of all bird species.
12,000 insect species can also be found right here in the Daintree Rainforest. With so many wonders to discover in the Daintree Rainforest, for several years it has attracted visitors from miles away. It really is a special place worth exploring with many fascinating things to learn about.