Manual of the New Zealand Flora/Anacardiaceæ

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Trees or shrubs, often exuding a resinous and usually acrid juice. Leaves alternate, simple or compound, exstipulate. Flowers regular, small, hermaphrodite, unisexual or polygamous. Calyx 3–5-partite, imbricate. Petals 3–7, rarely wanting, free, perigynous, imbricate. Disc usually annular or cup-shaped, entire or lobed. Stamens as many or twice as many as the petals, inserted under or upon the disc; filaments usually free; anthers 2-celled. Ovary superior, usually 1-celled, sometimes 2–5-celled, very rarely of 2–5 free carpels; styles 1–3; ovules solitary in the cells, either pendulous from the top or wall or from a basal funicle. Fruit superior or very rarely half-inferior, usually a 1–5-celled 1–5-seeded drupe. Seed exalbuminous; embryo straight or curved, cotyledons usually fleshy, radicle short.

A large order of nearly 50 genera and about 450 species, chiefly tropical in its distribution, rare in temperate regions. It includes several edible species, as the mango (probably the best of the tropical fruits), the hog-plum (Spondias), the Pistachia nut, &c. Some species of Rhus and other genera secrete a more or less poisonous and acrid juice; others produce valuable varnishes. The single New Zealand genus is endemic.


A tree, everywhere perfectly glabrous. Leaves large, alternate simple and entire. Flowers small, greenish, in terminal branched panicles. Calyx 5-lobed; lobes rounded, imbricate. Petals 5 rounded, erose, imbricate. Disc fleshy, 5-lobed. Stamens 5, inserted on the disc, alternating with as many petaloid staminodia. Ovary sessile, ovoid, 1-celled, narrowed into an erect style; stigma capitate; ovule solitary, pendulous from near the top of the cell. Drupe large, obovoid, obtuse, fleshy; endocarp forming a coriaceous and fibrous network round the seed. Seed pendulous; testa membranous, adhering to the cavity of the cell; embryo thick; cotyledons plano-convex; radicle minute, superior.

A genus consisting of a single species, peculiar to New Zealand. It is a somewhat doubtful member of the Anacardiaceæ, as it wants the resin-canals so characteristic of the family, and also differs in the andrœcium. Professor Engler, in "Die Naturlichen Pflanzenfamilien," has proposed that it should form the separate order Corynocarpaceæ.

1. C. laevigata, Forst. Char. Gen. 31, t. 16.—A handsome leafy tree 30–40 ft. high, with a trunk 1–2 ft diam. or more. Leaves 3–8 in. long, elliptic-oblong or oblong-obovate, subacute, narrowed into a short stout petiole, thick and coriaceous, dark-green and glossy; margins slightly recurved. Panicles 4–8 in. long, broad, rigid, erect, much branched. Flowers small, 1/6 in. diam., on short stout pedicels. Petals concave, barely exceeding the calyx-lobes. Filaments stout, subulate. Ovary small, glabrous. Drupe 1–1½ in. long, orange.—A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 365; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 638; Raoul, Choix, 50; Bot. Mag. t. 4379; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 49; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 46; Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 88; Students' Fl. 96.

Kermadec Islands, North Island, Chatham Islands: Abundant, chiefly in lowland situations not far from the sea. South Island: Marlborough and Nelson to Banks Peninsula and Westland, but very rare and local. Karaka. August-November.

The pulpy part of the fruit is edible; but the seed is highly poisonous unless steamed, or steeped in salt water. See Mr. Colenso's valuable paper "On the Vegetable Food of the New-Zealanders" (Trans. N.Z. Inst. xiii. 25), also notes by Mr. Skey and Mr. Colenso (l.c. iv. 316). The wood is soft and almost useless.