Click these links!
Formerly known as Microcitrus inodora, this species has a very limited range in the foothills of Bellenden Ker about an hour's drive south of Cairns. The mountain range, which has Australia's highest rainfall, is drained by the very short Russel River. Citrus inodora was originally found along the banks of this river, hence it is also known as the Russel River Lime.
The records of the Queensland Herbarium show that several of their specimens of C. inodora were collected from around the base station of the private cableway which is used to maintain the TV and radio transmitters at the summit of Bellenden Ker. The cableway and transmitters are looked after by the engineers of BroadcastAustralia. My career in BBC Engineering gave me direct contacts with BroadcastAustralia and, well before my trip to Australia, I managed to arrange the access I wanted. Naturally, I was also hoping for a trip up to the summit!
I arrived at the cable-car base station early in the morning on a beautiful sunny day. There was no sign of the 13 metres of rain which falls at the summit. I was offered a machette to assist with my searches through the forest, and told that the cable-car would be running to the mountain top around midday if I wanted a ride.
I searched for Citrus inodora along the margins of the telecom access road and along the edges of the cleared area at the cableway base station. I found several specimens taking the form of small, spindly plants never more than about 1.5 metres tall. The leaves, not many and often partly eaten, were very distinctive - glossy, thick and slightly holly-shaped, just like those that I am growing in pots in England. I could see no flowers or fruits, but the size of the plants suggests they are spreading by seeds.
GPS: -17.26817, 145.90190
GPS: -17.26980, 145.89975
Enlargement shows this is a larva of the Ambrax Swallowtail butterfly, Papilio ambrax egipius. Citrus inodora is a known host of this species. See Bobs Butterflies.
Here you can see the dual spines, a feature which is unique to this species in the Citrus family.
The cable-way repairs were completed by mid-afternoon and, together with the cable-way engineer and a hydraulics specialist, we set off the quick and easy route to the summit of Bellenden Ker! The private cableway has only a single carriage.
Looking south-west towards Mt. Bartle Frere, this is the head valley of the Musgrave River which goes on to almost encircle the Bellenden Ker range.