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North and South Islands, Stewart Island, Chatham Islands. Fl. Oct. -Jan.
Native name Rauhuia.

This is the true New Zealand flax ; the plant which is usually
so called being a lily. The only point of resemblance between
the two plants is the possession by each of a strong fibre.



Distribution. A large family, found in warm and tropical regions. These
plants are usually remarkable for their powerful and aromatic odour. The leaves
contain glands filled with a bitter volatile oil. The common Rue (Ruta
graveolens) is used in medicine as an anti-spasmodic. Dictamnus fraxinella,
the false Dittany, is said to exhale so much of this volatile oil that the
surrounding air becomes charged with it, and faint flashes of light may be
obtained on warm still evenings, if a flame be brought near the plant. Of the
78 genera comprised in the order, only two are found in New Zealand.



Fig. 66. Melicope simplex (i nat. size).


Key to the Genera,

Sepals and petals, 5. Stamens, 10. Phebalium, p. 220.

Sepals and petals, 4. Stamens, 8. Melicope, p. 220.

Genus Phebalium.

Shrubs, with alternate, pellucid-dotted, simple leaves, and corymbs of white
flowers. Calyx small. 28 species are found in Australia, but only one in New

Phebalium nudum (The Naked Phebalium}.

A slender, branching shrub, with reddish bark. Leaves, lin. - Ifin. long ;
flowers, J in.-J in. across; white, in terminal corymbs; endemic. North Island :
as far south as the Thames. Great Barrier Island. Fl. Nov.-Dec. Maori name

Genus Melicope.

Flowers, regular. Sepals and petals, 4. Stamens, 8. Ovary of 4 carpels.
Shrubs or trees, with dotted leaves, simple or ternate. Flowers terminal or
axillary; small. About 15 species, two of which are endemic in New Zealand.
(Name from the Greek, in reference to the lobed glands round the ovary).

Melicope ternata (The Ternate-leaved Melicope).
A small tree, with shining yellowish-green leaves, and axillary cymes of
greenish flowers. Leaves opposite ; 3-foliate ; leaflets, 2in.-4in. long. Flowers,
Jin. in diameter. Seed, black, shining. Common in the North Island ; local in
the South. Fl. Sept. -Oct. Maori name Wliarangi. The gum of this tree is
said to have been chewed by the natives.

Melicope simplex (The Simple-leaved Melicope).
A small tree, 3ft. - 12ft. high. Leaves alternate, usually simple, rarely
3-foliolate, Jin. -fin. long. Leaf stem flattened, broad. Flowers, -in. across,
white or pink, fascicled on the branches. The appearance of this plant is
different in every respect from that of M. ternata. Both islands abundant.

This is one of the few New Zealand plants that have been
shown to have cleistogamic flowers (v. Viola Cunning hamii.)

Mr. G. M. Thomson found specimens of Melicope simplex
on Pigeon Island in Lake Wanaka, with closed flowers that
were seeding freely." On examining them he found that the
flowers were much reduced, and adapted for self-pollination.
The sepals were normal, and the petals nearly so, but of the
eight stamens found in the well-developed flower, four were

*Trans. Vol. XXIV. p. 416.



either altogether rudimentary, or had the anthers apparently
aborted. The other four had large anthers on short filaments.
The four carpels, in place of being in contact, were completely
free, and instead of having four united styles, as in the
normal flower, with a single stigma, the cleistogamic flower


Melicope simplex (life size).

had four more or less distinct styles. The flowers were pen-
dulous, and probably the pollen matured early, and was shed
into the apex of the corolla, thus reaching the stigma. As the
filaments were shorter than the ovary, it was impossible for
the pollen to pass directly from anther to stigma.

This plant, like several other New Zealand species, is found
sometimes with hermaphrodite, sometimes with dioecious


flowers, an anomaly that has never been fully explained. It is
probable that we have here, examples of species that are
changing from the hermaphrodite to the unisexual condition,,
or vice versa. The problem presented is one of considerable
interest and importance, and should in the future attract the
attention of investigators.



Distribution. A tropical family of forest trees, which includes the
Mahogany, the Indian Satin Wood, and the Red Cedar of Australia. Found
chiefly in Asia and America.

Genus Dysoxylum.

About 30 species, all large forest trees, often with a strong odour of garlic.
One species alone is found in New Zealand, and that is endemic. (Name from
the Greek, meaning sour or acid, in allusion to the bitter principle contained in
the leaves.) 1 sp

Dysoxylum spectabile (The Handsome Dysoxylum).

A tree, often 50 ft. in height, with handsome glossy leaves, unequally
pinnate. Flowers in. broad, white, produced in drooping axillary panicles.
The fruit is large and conspicuous, the hard thick capsule opening gradually, and
showing the brilliant scarlet covering of the seeds. This extra covering is called
the aril. (Mace is the aril of the nutmeg.) This tree is known to settlers as
the New Zealand Cedar. Maori name KoJiekohe. Fl. May-July.

This is one of the most beautiful troos of the New Zealand
flora. Its large glossy leaves, its white, lily-of-the-valley-like
flowers, springing from the bare parts of trunk or branch, and
its large fruits, make it a conspicuous object in the bush of the
North Island, to which it is practically confined. In the South
Island it is rare, and is found only in the north of Nelson and
Marlborough. The leaves are very bitter, and an infusion of
them is sometimes used by bushmen as a tonic. The wood is
light, and very useful for fencing posts in loose sand. In
such situations it is more durable than any other New Zealand


Fig. 68. Dysoxylum spectabile Unripe Fruit (J nat. size).




Distribution. A large and interesting family of plants, with, about 4000
species, but poorly represented in New Zealand. In some respects this family is
allied to the Geraniaceae, but, from the absence of petals in many genera, it is
placed amongst the Incompletae by Hooker. Xylophylla has flattened branches,
which bear flowers on their margins. The milky juice contained in the stems of
many of the species is usually highly poisonous. Some species produce resin,
caoutchouc, or oil, while others yield a valuable food-starch, from which cassava,
arrow-root, and tapioca are made. The Croton-oil, and Castor-oil plants are
members of this family, while the Common Box is well-known as a garden
edging. Some euphorbiaceous plants, such as Poinsettia, are cultivated in
gardens and greenhouses for their brilliantly coloured bracts.

Genus Euphorbia.

Herbs with milky juice, rarely shrubs. Flowers cymose, terminal, enclosed
in a perianth-like 4-5-lobed involucre, with yellowish or purple glands between
the lobes. Stamens unequal, jointed in the middle. Each separate stamen of
the inflorescence is regarded as a male flower. Often it is provided with a scale-
like bract at its base. In the centre of this cluster of male flowers, is a single
female flower, consisting of a stalked 3-celled ovary. Cells 1-ovuled. Capsule
3-lobed. Some of the African and Canary Island species closely resemble Cacti,
and sometimes attain a height of 30 ft. The common weed known as the
Spurge, is a European Euphorbia. 1 sp.

Euphorbia glauca (The Glaucous Euphorbia).

A shining, glaucous herb, 1 ft. -2 ft. high. Eootstock woody, thick. Stem
branched at the top, leafy. Leaves 1 in. -4 in. long, broadly oblong or narrow.
Floral leaves broad, whorled. Involucres bell-shaped, % in. across, fleshy, with
4 or 5 purple glands. Capsule the size of a pea, smooth. Both islands : sea-
beaches. Common. Fl. Oct. -Feb.



Distribution. A large, chiefly tropical, family, including many plants with
poisonous properties. Some species yield a pleasant fruit, while their leaves are
highly poisonous. The nut-like fruits of the Sapindaceae lather freely in water,
and are used in the West Indies for washing purposes. The Maples and


Horse -Chestnuts are amongst the most handsome trees belonging to the order.
The North American Sugar Maple, Acer saccharinum, contains a great quantity
of sugar in its sap.

Key to the Genera.

Leaves simple (in the N.Z. species). Dodoneea, p. 225.

Leaves pinnate Alectryon, p. 225.

Genus Dodoncea.

Small trees, sometimes viscid. Leaves alternate. Sepals 3-5, petals none,
stamens 5-8. A genus chiefly Australian. Flowers terminal or axillary.
(Named after Dodoens, a German botanist.)

Dodonsea viscosa (The Viscid Dodoncea).

A small hard-wooded tree, with viscid shoots. Leaves linear-oblong, entire,
1-3 in. long. Flowers in small terminal panicles, green. 10-12 stamens are
found in the male flowers. Fruit dark-brown, flat, winged. Both islands : dry
woods. Fl. Oct.-Nov. Native name *Ake-ake, perhaps signifying for ever and
ever, in allusion to the durability of the wood. The wood was much used for
native clubs, and is now valued by settlers for making mauls, as it does not
spread. 1 sp.

Genus Alectryon.

A tree, with black bark, and hairy branches. Leaves pinnate, 4 in. -18 in.
in length ; leaflets 2 in. -4 in. Flowers in erect panicles. Calyx 4-5-lobed ;
petals none ; stamens 5-8. Fruit a capsule, coriaceous. (Name from the Greek,
signifying a cock, in allusion to the scarlet, comb-like aril of the seed). 1 sp.

Alectryon excelsum (The Lofty Alectryon).

A handsome tree, sometimes 60 ft. high. Flowers, fruit, and branches
clothed with a rusty-coloured down. The whole of the flowering panicles
appear to be of a reddish brown, from the deep colour of the anthers. The seed
is black and shining, enclosed in a bright scarlet aril. An oil obtained from
these seeds is said to have been used in the making of native perfumes. This
tree is sometimes called TJie New Zealand Ash, and its timber is largely used.
Maori name, Titoki. Fl. Nov.-Dec.

One of the best known of the bush trees, often comprising
a large portion of the forest. It grows as far south as
Banks Peninsula, where, with several other North Island
forms, it reaches its southern-most habit. The prominent
jet-black seed, embedded in its scarlet envelope with flattened
crest and one side terminating in a spur, is one of the most
attractive objects for the ordinary visitor to the bush.

This name was applied by the Maoris to other hard-wooded trees.





Distribution. A small family of about 12 species, found in Europe, China,.
Japan, India, Peru, and New Zealand. The four New Zealand forms vary

Genus Coriaria.

Herbaceous plants, or small trees. Bacemes erect or drooping. Flowers
axillary. Leaves, J in. -3 in. long. 4 sp.

Coriaria ruscifolia (The Buscus-leaved Coriaria).

A small tree, with shining opposite leaves, and long drooping racemes of
tiny, greenish flowers. These racemes are Gin. - 12in. long. The flower petals
become red and fleshy while the seeds are ripening, and are filled with a purple
juice. Both islands. Fl. Sept. -Oct. Maori Name : Tupakihi or Tutu. (Ruscus
is the plant known as the Butcher's Broom.)

The family Coriariaceae possesses only one genus, Coriaria^
whose remarkable distribution has been given above. Of the
New Zealand species, two, C. ruscifolia, and C. thymifolia, are
said to be found also in South America ; the identity, however,
of forms with ours has been questioned. This dis-
tribution has been used to prove a former land connection
between New Zealand and South America, but the order is
probably a very ancient one, and the discontinuity of
distribution is more likely to be due to relict endemism,
than to direct communication between these two remote
districts. The family may at one time have been widely
distributed over the face of the globe, and have died out in all
places except those in which it is now found.

C. thymifolia is known in New Granada as the Ink-plant,
as the juice of its fruit is used as a writing fluid. Bather a
curious character of the genus is the formation of the fruit
from the persistent petals, which become fleshy and full of
purple juice.





The tutu is well known as the most remarkable of New
Zealand's poisonous plants. Some of the animals liberated
here by Captain Cook died from the effects of eating the
leaves, and in the early days of the Colony the settlers lost
large numbers of their animals in this way. Thus Dr. Lauder
Lindsay states in the " British Medical Review " (July 1865) ;
"He seemed a fortunate farmer or runholder who had not lost
more than 25 per cent, of his stock from toot-poisoning, whilst
in some instances, the losses were so high as 75 per cent."
Sir Julius von Haast narrates how an elephant travelling with
a circus, died from eating this plant by the way-side. Further,
there are on record a few cases in which human beings have
lost their lives from eating the shoots or berries of the tutu.
The poison produces vomiting, convulsions, frothing at the
mouth, and death.

It has been found that a dose of about a milligram of the
extract " produces nausea, vomiting, and incapacity for work
extending over twenty-four hours in a healthy, full-grown
man." >:

Various methods of treatment have been employed to
counteract the effects of the poison, including the use of
lime-water, ammonia, stimulants, and the inhalation of
chloroform followed by sedatives and bleeding. If the ex-
perience of stock owners is to be trusted, the last mentioned
is the most efficacious means of affording relief. No antidote
is known. Maori children, poisoned by eating the berries, were
smoked over a fire of green boughs, being shaken all the time !

There is some reason to believe that the accounts given of
the effects of the poison on stock have been exaggerated.
Horses have been known to eat freely of this plant without
evil results. Possibly the over-driving of cattle and sheep
has in many cases intensified the action of the poison.

*Easterfield and Aston : Trans. Vol. XXXIII., p. 345.



Though the green shoots and seeds are intensely poisonous,
the Maoris prepared from the juice of the berries a beverage,
of which, according to Colenso, they drank large quantities.
In the early days of the Colony the settlers also used to
make a wine from the fruit, after removing the seeds.
However, this wine was not above suspicion. Canon Stack
relates how he drank the wine upon one occasion when
travelling in company with Bishop Harper. Fortunately,
neither of them did more than taste it. Shortly after
swallowing it, the Canon lost all feeling in his extremities, and
could scarcely retain his seat, but felt that he must fall forward
on his face. A mist came over the room, and he perceived
that he was being poisoned, and must ask for an emetic. Soon,
however, his feet began to tingle, and the strange sensation
passed. The good Bishop was similarly affected, so, judging
from this case, the beverage can scarcely be recommended for
general use.


The poison apparently affects the medulla oblongata, and
basal ganglia of the brain. Various attempts were made to
isolate the poisonous principle, and this was finally accom-
plished by Professor Easterfield and Mr. Aston in 1900.
The results of their work will be found in the paper already
referred to. At the end of their article is also a full biblio-
graphy of the subject. These workers find that " all the New
Zealand species of Coriaria, contain a highly poisonous
crystalline glucoside, of the formula C^H^O?." To this they
give the name "tut in." The poisonous principle of tutu is,
therefore, allied to the bitter substances found in many plants,
such as amygdalin, found in bitter almonds ; liquorice-sugar,
found in the liquorice root ; salicin, contained in the leaves
and young bark of poplars and willows ; and convolvulin,


obtained from the jalap-root. The poisonous constituent of
the European C. myrtifolia has been termed " coriamyrtin "
and is distinct from "tutin," though both probably belong to
the same chemical series.



Distribution. An unimportant tropical family, comprising 38 genera, of
which only one is found in New Zealand. This genus is also found in Norfolk

Genus Pennantia.

Shrubs or trees. Leaves alternate. Flowers in large terminal panicles.
Sepals and petals 5. Stamens 5, attached to the top of the stem. Drupe
small, stone three-angled. The genus is named after the Scotch naturalist,

Pennantia corymbosa (The Corymbose Pennantia?)

A tree, 10-40 ft. in height. Leaves 1 in. to 4 in. long. Flowers small,
numerous, waxy- white, fragrant ; flowering stems white and hairy. Drupes
black and fleshy. Both islands. Fl. Nov.-Dec. Maori name, Kaikomako.

This is an interesting little tree, not uncommon in many
parts of the country. In its young state it is a shrub, with
long, flexuous, interlacing branches, and small, distant, sessile,
truncate, variable, wedge-shaped leaves. When full-grown, it
is a handsome tree, 20 ft. to 30 ft. high, with broadly oblong,
short-stalked, glossy leaves, about two inches in length.
Only a keen student of nature would recognize in the rather
ugly shrub, the precursor of the ornamental tree. The
profuse, white, fragrant flowers make it well worthy of
cultivation. The curious black fungus, so common on the
native beeches, is sometimes found on the bark of this tree.

The seed is suspended in the ovary by a remarkable
filamentous process, which originates outside the fruit, and,



Fig. 70. Corynocarpus Isevigata (\ nat. size).


after running along one of the external faces, enters by a pore
near the apex.

The Kaikomako in Maori Lore.

The story concerning the origin of fire is one of the best
known Maori legends. There are several variants of it.
Maui, the famous hero and demigod, one evening maliciously
extinguished all the household fires, so that, when morning
came, it was impossible for his mother to cook the daily meal.
This the hero had foreseen, and it gave him the required
excuse to go to the bowels of the earth, where dwelt the dread
goddess of fire, Mahuika. He thus hoped to discover whence
came fire. He reached the abode of the goddess by a
subterranean path, and begged from her a spark to rekindle
the terrestrial hearths. On receiving this daring request, the
goddess pulled out one of her finger-nails, and with it there
leaped forth a stream of fire. Maui carried off the flame with
him, but, wishing to learn more of its origin, put it out before
he had gone far. He returned to the cavern of the goddess,
and told her that he had accidentally lost the fire. She drew
out a second finger-nail, and Maui carried off the fire and
extinguished it as before. The same trick was repeated by
Maui, until Mahuika had pulled out all her nails except that
on one of her big toes. By this time, however, the goddess
recognized that she was being tricked. So, when Maui
returned for the twentieth nail, she tore it out and violently
dashed it on the ground. Immediately her dwelling was filled
with flames. Maui escaped to the upper world, but was chased
by the goddess with conflagration. With great presence of
mind, he turned himself into a bird, but even then he was
likely to have perished, for a pool of water into which he
plunged, was boiling hot. Indeed, he would undoubtedly have
been burned, had he not called to his assistance the gods of
the wind and rain and hail. These quenched the fires, and
Mahuika, appalled by the terrors of the tempest, fled shrieking
to the underworld. As she went, however, Maui saw her


throw the seeds of fire into several trees. Amongst these were
the kaikomako, mahoe, totara, and pate. Thus he obtained
the coveted knowledge, for if a sharp pointed kaikomako stick
is worked vigorously along the surface of a flat piece of mahoe
(Melicytus ramiflorus) , or pate (Schefflera digitata) , a groove
is formed, which fills with fine dust. This, being gathered to
one end of the groove, will presently smoke ; and, if the
worker is sufficiently adroit and strong, he will at last be able
to kindle a flame.

Strangely enough, this primitive method of obtaining fire
was the only one known to the Maoris. Those, who have
tried it, alone know what violent exertion and care are needed
to ensure kindling by these means. Smoke is readily obtained
by the vigorous worker, but flame hardly ever.



Distribution. A family of two species, one in New Zealand and the other
found in New Caledonia and the adjacent islands.

Corynocarpus Isevigata (The Smooth Corynocarpus) .

A handsome tree, with glossy, laurel-like foliage. Leaves 3 in. -7 in. long,
oblong. Flowers in erect panicles, 4 in. in length. Flowers in. in diameter,
white. Petals concave. Fruit oblong, 1 in. in length, extremely poisonous.
Found in both islands. Fl. Aug. -Dec. Maori name, Karaka. This tree is
often called by settlers the "New Zealand Laurel." The Karaka forms the
chief forest in the Chatham Islands, and was much used by the natives in the
making of canoes.

This is one of the handsomest of New Zealand trees, The
rounded, massive heads of laurel -like leaves are to be seen
rising near most Maori clearings, as far south as Long-
Look-Out Point, on Banks Peninsula, This is its southern-
most habitat, though it also grows in the Chatham Islands,


where it is known to the natives as Kopi. It is common in
many places near the coast in the North Island, where it has
obviously been planted by the Maoris ; and it is also
.sometimes to be found along river-banks, being specially
plentiful in the neighbourhood of the Wanganui Eiver. In
the South Island it is rarer, though Kirk (Forest Flora,
p. 173) is scarcely right in calling it " very rare "as it grows

Fig. 71. Karaka Grove.

in great abundance along the coast-line north of Kaikoura in
the neighbourhood of old Maori settlements.

The kernel of the orange-coloured, damson-shaped fruit was
one of the staple articles of diet of the Maori. Consequently,
the tree was much cultivated, and, as the young plants grow
readily from self-sown seeds in the shade of the old, the
karaka is very often to be found in groves. These groves,
according to Colenso, were strictly tapu. His account* of the

* Trans. IV., p. 317.


manner of preparation of the food, and the action of the poison
is extremely interesting.

Mr. Skey investigated the nature of the poison, and came
to the conclusion that it was probably a glucoside (v., under
Coriaria ruscifolia.) He isolated the bitter principle in
beautifully radiating acicular crystals, and considered that
it was similar to digitaline (i.e., the drug obtained from the
root of the fox-glove), (v., also under Pomaderris.)


The Maoris state that they originally brought the karaka
with them from their semi-mythical Eden (Hawaiki), but
science contradicts this statement. Until quite recently, the
genus was believed to be endemic, but it has now been found
in New Caledonia and the New Hebrides, so that it is
probable the plant came into New Zealand when there was a
land extension to the north. It is apparently quite unknown
in the Western Pacific, whence the Maoris came to New
Zealand, but a very similar tree growing in Polynesia bears, it
is said, the same name. It is probable, therefore, that the
name karaka was attached to the New Zealand tree by the
Maoris, because of its resemblance to a tree found in their
former home, and not because they brought it with them.
The Maoris wore chaplets of the leaves upon their heads,
when they visited the graves of their ancestors on any
important occasion.



Distribution. A widely-distributed family, occurring in warm and
temperate regions. Some of the species possess edible fruits, while the bark of
others yields a tonic, and is used in medicine. Yellow, green and blue dyes

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