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(Goodenia family)


According to Mabberley (1987), this family comprises about 430 species in 16 genera. However, Brummitt (1992) lists only 12 genera. The plants are mostly sappy shrubs and herbs, but also occasionally trees. Most are to be found in Australia with a few in New Zealand, Polynesia and on tropical coasts elsewhere. A few species of Goodenia Sm., Leschenaultia R.Br., and Scaevola L. are occasionally grown elsewhere as ornamentals.

Preparations of one species are reportedly used by some Pacific islanders for treating eye and skin ailments. At least one species bears spines capable of inflicting mechanical injury.

Scaevola L.

About 130 species are found in tropical and subtropical regions especially in Australia and Polynesia. Scaevola sericea G.Forst. (syn. Scaevola taccada Roxb.) and Scaevola plumieri Vahl are widely distributed in tropical beach jungle. The pith of Scaevola sericea is used to make Malayan rice paper and other artefacts (Mabberley 1987).

Scaevola sericea G.Forst. var. taccada J.W.Thieret & B.L.Lipscomb
[syns Lobelia taccada Gaertn., Scaevola frutescens K.Krause, Scaevola koenigii Vahl, Scaevola taccada Roxb.]
Beach Naupaka

The juice from 1-2 ripe fruits is squeezed into the eyes three times a day as a remedy for "pink-eyes" by the Mokilese (Lee Ling D - undated; accessed 01/2004). Preparations of this plant have also been used in Samoan traditional medicine for treating various skin ailments, abscesses, swellings, and elephantiasis (Dittmar A 1998-2003; accessed 01/2004).

Scaevola spinescens R.Br.
[syn. Crossotoma spinescens Vriese]
Maroon Bush, Spiny Fan Flower, Prickly Fanflower

Aplin (1976) includes this species in a list of spiny plants capable of causing mechanical injury.


  • Aplin TEH (1976) Poisonous garden plants and other plants harmful to man in Australia. Western Australian Department of Agriculture. Bulletin 3964 [url] [url-2]
  • Brummitt RK (1992) Vascular Plant Families and Genera. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens [WorldCat]
  • Mabberley DJ (1987) The Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Richard J. Schmidt

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