Manual of the New Zealand Flora/Meliaceæ

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Manual of the New Zealand Flora by Thomas Frederick Cheeseman
Order XV: Meliaceæ

Order XV. MELIACEÆ.

Trees or shrubs; wood often hard, coloured, odorous. Leaves alternate, usually pinnate, rarely simple, exstipulate. Flowers regular, hermaphrodite, seldom unisexual. Calyx 4–5-lobed or -partite, usually imbricate. Petals 4–5, rarely more or 3 only, free or adnate to the lower part of the staminal tube, contorted imbricate or valvate. Stamens 8–10, seldom more or fewer; filaments united into a tube, rarely free; anthers generally sessile within the top of the tube. Disc within the staminal column, annular or tubular, free or connate with the ovary. Ovary generally free, 3–5-celled; style simple; ovules 2 in each cell, rarely more. Fruit usually a capsule, sometimes a berry, rarely drupaceous. Seeds often enclosed in an aril, with or without albumen.

An order of about 37 genera and 300 species, almost wholly confined to the tropics, rare in temperate regions. Most of the species are more or less bitter and astringent. Some yield a valuable and durable timber, as the mahogany (Swietenia), satinwood (Chloroxylon), and the so-called Australian cedar (Cedrela australis). The single New Zealand species belongs to a genus widely distributed in eastern tropical Asia.


1. DYSOXYLUM, Blume.

Large usually glabrous trees. Leaves simple, alternate, pinnate; leaflets entire. Flowers in lax axillary panicles. Calyx small, 4–5-toothed -lobed or -partite, imbricate. Petals 4–5, linear-oblong, spreading, valvate. Staminal tube cylindrical, dentate or crenulate at the mouth; anthers 8–10, included. Disc tubular, sheathing the ovary. Ovary 3–5-celled; ovules usually 2 in each cell. Capsule globose or pyriform, coriaceous, 1–5-celled, loculicidally 2–5-valved. Seeds with or without an aril, large, oblong, exalbuminous; cotyledons very large.

A considerable genus of large forest trees, best represented in tropical Asia and the Malay Archipelago, but with several species in Australia and the Pacific islands. The single New Zealand species is endemic.

1. D. spectabile, Hook. f. Handb. N.Z. Fl. 41.—A handsome round-headed tree 25–50 ft. high; trunk 1–3 ft. in diam. Leaves unequally pinnate, glabrous, 9–18 in. long; leaflets 3–4 pairs, alternate, petioled, 3–7 in., ovate-oblong or oblong-obovate, acute, oblique at the base, undulate. Panicles 6–18 in. long, pendulous, usually springing from the trunk or branches far below the leaves, rarely axillary, sparingly branched. Flowers waxy-white, 1+12 in. diam., shortly pedicelled. Calyx-lobes small, ciliate. Petals 5, linear, spreading or recurved. Staminal tube cylindric, fleshy, crenate. Style slender, exserted beyond the staminal tube; stigma discoid. Capsule large, broadly obovoid, 1 in. long, 3–4-celled. Seeds 2 in each cell, enveloped in an orange aril.—Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 64, 65; Students' Fl. 87. Hartighsea spectabilis, A. Juss. in Mem. Mus. Par. xix. (1830) 228; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 597; Raoul, Choix, 47; Hook. Ic. Plant. t. 616, 617; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 39. Trichilia spectabilis, Forst. Prodr. n. 188; A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 306.

North Island: Abundant from the North Cape southwards. South Island: Marlborough, D'Urville Island. Ascends to 1500ft. Kohekohe. May–July.

Timber suitable for inlaying and furniture; leaves bitter and tonic.