Manual of the New Zealand Flora/Magnoliaceæ

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Trees or shrubs, often aromatic. Leaves alternate, entire or toothed, stipulate or exstipulate. Flowers axillary or terminal, solitary or fascicled, often large. Sepals 3, seldom more, deciduous. Petals 3–6, in several rows, hypogynous, imbricate in the bud. Stamens indefinite, hypogynous; anthers adnate. Carpels either many and imbricated on an elongated receptacle, or few in a single whorl on a flat receptacle, always 1-celled. Ovules 2 or several, attached to the ventral suture. Ripe carpels either dry and follicular, or succulent and berried, rarely woody. Seeds solitary or several; embryo minute, at the base of copious albumen.

A small order, mainly found in eastern and tropical Asia and North America. Genera 11; species about 80. Some of the species of Magnolia are strikingly beautiful in both flowers and foliage, and must rank among the finest known trees. The sole New Zealand genus is a somewhat anomalous member of the order, belonging to the tribe Wintereæ, characterized by the exstipulate leaves, polygamous flowers, and the carpels few in number in a single whorl.

1. DRIMYS, Forst.

Glabrous and aromatic trees and shrubs, usually of small size. Leaves alternate, exstipulate, marked with pellucid dots. Flowers small. Calyx cupuliform in the New Zealand species, the margin shortly and irregularly toothed or lobed, or entire. Petals 5 or 6 or more, in 2 or more whorls, spreading. Stamens with the filaments thickened above; anther-cells diverging. Carpels 1 to several; ovules few or many. Fruit of one or several indehiscent berries.

A small genus of 10 or 12 species, found in South America, New Zealand, Australia, New Caledonia, New Guinea, and Borneo. The three New Zealand species are all endemic.

Large shrub or small tree. Bark black. Leaves 2–5 in., not blotched. Fascicles 3–10-flowered 1. D. axillaris.
Large shrub or small tree. Bark black. Leaves 1½–2½ in., blotched with red. Fascicles 2–4-flowered 2. D. colorata.
Small compact shrub, 3–5 ft. high. Bark reddish-yellow, rugose. Leaves ½–1 in.; petioles appressed. Flowers solitary or two together 3. D. Traversii.

1. D. axillaris, Forst. Char. Gen. t. 42.—A small tree 12–25 ft. in height, rarely more; bark black. Leaves 2–5 in. long, on short petioles, elliptic-ovate or elliptic-oblong, obtuse, coriaceous or rarely submembranous, green on both surfaces or glaucous below, not blotched. Flowers small, greenish-yellow, in fascicles of 3–10 in the axils of the leaves, or from the scars of fallen leaves; pedicels ¼–¾ in. long. Calyx cupular, with 2–6 irregular shallow lobes or notches. Petals 5–6, linear, spreading. Stamens 6–15, in 3 series. Carpels 3–5. Berries 2 or 3, about the size of a peppercorn; seeds 3–6, black, angular.—A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 290; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 629; Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 47; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 12; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 10; Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 1; Students' Fl. 22. Wintera axillaris, Forst. Prodr. n. 229.

North and South Islands: Not uncommon in forests from Ahipara to Banks Peninsula. Altitudinal range from sea-level to 2800 ft. Horopito. October–December.

Aromatic and pungent, but not so much so as the following species. The wood is serviceable for inlaying, and a decoction of the bark is occasionally used by country settlers as an astringent.

2. D. colorata, Raoul, Choix de Plantes, t. 23.—Very similar to the preceding, and merged with it by Hooker in the Handbook. It is usually smaller and more compactly branched; and the leaves are shorter, ½–2½ in. long, more coriaceous, yellowish-green blotched with red, usually more glaucous below. Fascicles 2–4-flowered; peduncles much shorter. Calyx shallowly cup-shaped, often quite entire. Carpels 2–4, but it is seldom that more than 2 ripen. Seeds 2–3.—D. axillaris, var. colorata, Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 2; Students' Fl. 22.

North, South, and Stewart Islands: Not uncommon from the Patetere Plateau and Rotorua southwards. Very abundant in Stewart Ishmd, where it descends to sea-level. November–December.

I have considerable hesitation in re-establishing this as a species. It is certainly very close to the preceding, and in the dried state it is often difficult to separate the two. But in the field it can always be readily distinguished, and all my correspondents regard it as distinct. The two species grow intermixed in many localities in the Wellington and Nelson Districts.

3. D. Traversii, T. Kirk in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xxx. (1898) 379.—A compact closely-branched shrub, 3–6 ft. high. Branches stout; bark reddish or reddish-yellow, rough and wrinkled, almost verrucose, sometimes viscid. Leaves numerous, close-set and often overlapping, ¾–1 in. long, oblong-obovate or obovate-spathulate, obtuse, thick and coriaceous, glaucous below, margins slightly thickened; petiole short, stout, appressed. Flowers small, axillary, 1 or 2 together; pedicels short. Calyx saucer-sliaped, entire. Petals 5, linear-oblong, obtuse. Stamens usually 5. Carpel solitary (always?), obovate. Berry small, globose-depressed; seeds 3–6.—Hymenanthera Traversii, Buch, in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xv. (1883) 339, t. 28.

South Island: Western part of the Nelson Province; near Collingwood, H. H. Travers! Medora Creek, Wakamarama Range to the Gouland Downs, alt. 2000–3000 ft., J. Dall; Mount Rochfort, near Westport, W. Townson!

A very curious and distinct species, by far the smallest of the genus.