Manual of the New Zealand Flora/Sapindaceæ

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

Order XIX. SAPINDACEÆ.

Trees, shrubs, or woody climbers, rarely herbs. Leaves alternate or more rarely opposite, often compound, exstipulate, seldom stipulate. Flowers regular or irregular, generally unisexual or polygamous; inflorescence very various. Calyx 3–5-lobed or of as many free sepals, divisions often unequal in size, imbricate or valvate. Petals 3–5 or wanting, free, equal or unequal, often bearded or glandular at the base within, imbricate. Disc very various, annular or unilateral, rarely wanting. Stamens 5–10, in the great majority of the order (but not in the New Zealand genera) inserted inside the disc at the base of the ovary, more rarely outside or on the disc, sometimes unilateral; anthers basifixed or versatile, 2-celled. Ovary free, central or excentric, entire lobed or partite, 1–4-celled; style simple or divided, usually terminal; ovules 1–2 in each cell, seldom more. Fruit very various, capsular or indehiscent, dry or succulent, entire or lobed, sometimes winged. Seeds globose or compressed, with or without an aril; albumen wanting or more rarely present; embryo generally thick, sometimes folded or spirally twisted, radicle short, inferior.

A polymorphous order, exceedingly difficult to characterize as a whole, and often separated into 3 or 4 distinct ones. As defined above, it comprises about 80 genera and between 600 and 700 species, many of them very imperfectly known. It is chiefly tropical, but extends through both of the temperate zones. The properties of the order are very various. The maples contain a sweetish sap, from which sugar is obtained. Several species of Nephelium, such as the Litchi and Longan, produce some of the most delicious of Asiatic fruits. Many species contain bitter or astringent principles, while others, as some of the American species of Serjania and Paullinia, are reputed to be poisonous. The two genera found in New Zealand belong to the tribe Dodonææ, which has regular flowers, stamens inserted outside the disc (not inside), and exalbuminous seeds. Alectryon is endemic, but Dodonæa is most abundant in Australia, extending also through the tropics of both hemispheres.

Leaves simple in the New Zealand species. Disc wanting. Capsule membranous, often winged 1. Dodonæa.
Leaves pinnate. Disc 8-lobed. Capsule woody, turgid 2. Alectryon.

1. DODONÆA, Linn.

Shrubs or small trees, often viscid with a resinous exudation. Leaves alternate, exstipulate. Flowers unisexual or polygamous, in terminal or axillary racemes or panicles, rarely solitary. Sepals 2–5, imbricate or valvate. Petals wanting. Stamens 5–10, usually 8; filaments short; anthers linear-oblong. Ovary 3–6-celled, with 2 ovules in each cell. Capsule membranous or coriaceous, 2–6-sided, septicidally 2–6-valved; valves winged at the back. Seeds 1–2 in each cell, lenticular or subglobose, compressed, with a thickened funicle but not arillate; embryo spirally coiled.

A genus comprising about 50 species, fully 40 of which are confined to Australia, the remainder scattered through the tropical or subtropical regions of both hemispheres. The New Zealand species is found in most warm countries.

1. D. viscosa, Jacq. Enum. Pl. Carib. 19.—Usually a glabrous shrub or small tree 8–20 ft. high, but occasionally dwarfed to 1–3 ft., and sometimes attaining 30–35 ft.; trunk seldom more than 12 in. diam.; young branches usually compressed or triangular, viscid. Leaves 1–3 in. long, narrow linear-obovate or oblanceolate, obtuse, rarely acute, entire, gradually narrowed into a short petiole. Flowers small, greenish or reddish, in few-flowered terminal panicles, diœcious. Male flowers: Sepals 4, free, oblong or ovate. Stamens 8–10, rather longer than the sepals; filaments very short. Females: Sepals narrower, more erect. Style stout, 2-fid, long-exserted. Capsule 34 in. diam., compressed, orbicular, very broadly 2–3-winged, 2-lobed at each end; wings veined, membranous.—Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 38; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 45; Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 17; Students' Fl. 94. D. spathulata, Smith in Rees Cyclop. xii. n. 2; A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 308; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 599; Raoul, Choix, 47.

North and South Islands: From the North Cape as far south as Banks Peninsula, chiefly in lowland districts. Akeake. September-November.

Wood hard and heavy; formerly much used by the Maoris for making clubs, spears, &c.

2. ALECTRYON, Gærtn.

A lofty tree. Leaves alternate, pinnate, exstipulate; leaflets entire or toothed. Flowers hermaphrodite or unisexual, in axillary or terminal many-flowered panicles. Calyx 4–5-lobed, villous within, lobes unequal, imbricate. Petals wanting. Disc small, 8-lobed. Stamens 5–8, inserted within the lobes of the disc; anthers large. Ovary obliquely obcordate, compressed, 1- celled; style short; stigma simple or 2–3-lobed; ovule solitary. Capsule coriaceous or almost woody, subglobose, turgid, with a flattened prominence or crest towards the top. Seed subglobose, arillate; testa crustaceous; cotyledons spirally coiled.

A monotypic genus confined to New Zealand.

1. A. excelsum, Gærtn. Fruct. i. 216, t. 46.—A handsome tree 30–60 ft. high, with a trunk 2 ft. in diam. or more; bark black; young branches, leaves below, inflorescence, and capsules clothed with silky ferruginous pubescence. Leaves unequally pinnate, 4–12 in. long; leaflets 4–6 pairs, shortly petioled, 2–4 in. long, obliquely ovate-lanceolate, acuminate, entire or obscurely remotely toothed, membranous. Panicles 4–12 in. long, much branched. Anthers large, dark-red. Ovary pilose. Capsule 1312 in. long, opening transversely but irregularly. Seed large, almost globose, jet-black and shining, half imbedded in a bright scarlet fleshy cupshaped aril.—A. Cunn. Precur. n. 598; Hook. Ic. Plant. t. 570; Raoul, Choix, 47; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 38; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 45; Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 92, 93; Students' Fl. 95.

Var. grandis, Cheesem. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xxiv. (1892) 409.—Leaves much larger, 12-18 in. long; leaflets 2-3 pairs, 5-7 in. long, oblong or ovate, obtuse or subacute, entire or with 2-3 coarse teeth. Flowers not seen, and only fragments of old capsules.

North and South Islands: North Cape to Banks Peninsula and Westland, common. Var. grandis: Three Kings Islands, T. F. C. Ascends to 2000 ft. Titoki. October-December.

Yields a tough and elastic timber, valuable for axe-handles, bullock-yokes, &c. The Maoris formerly extracted an oil from the seeds. Var. grandis is doubtless a distinct species, but in the absence of flowers and fruit I hesitate to describe it as such.