Fantastic news for those of you who have been keeping up with the latest updates on the dog’s balls shrub, it now has a scientific name. In a paper published in the journal Austrobaileya, botanist Dr Russell Barrett from the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens describes the dog’s balls shrubs as a unique species, with the newly christened scientific name Grewia savannicola.
The plant, known variously as (get ready for this) “‘dog’s balls’, ’emu berry’, ‘dogs nuts’, ‘dysentery bush’, ‘dysentery plant’ or ‘turkey bush'”, was previously considered to be a member of another species from south-east Asia, Grewia retusifolia.
In the paper, Grewia savannicola is described as “a small, lignotuberous shrub, usually <0.8 m high” with “bisexual flowers with 10–15 stamens“. Please, contain your arousal.
From looking at an image of the plant, it seems pretty self-evident why it would have picked up the ‘dog’s balls’ name, but in case you need it spelled out, here’s Barrett talking to the ABC:
Most people ask why is it called dog’s balls until you show them a picture of the fruit. Then the penny drops. It’s because the fruit generally has two seeds that are fused together side by side, covered in soft hairs, that hang down on a short stalk.
Never has the phrase “soft hairs” managed to evoke in me such visceral disgust.Image: Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens