Manual of the New Zealand Flora/Malvaceæ

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Herbs, shrubs, or soft-wooded trees, usually with tough fibrous inner bark, young parts frequently clothed with stellate hairs. Leaves stipulate, alternate, often palmately veined, entire or lobed or rarely compound. Flowers regular, hermaphrodite or rarely uni-sexual, often furnished at the base with a kind of involucel composed of few or many free or connate bractlets. Sepals 5, valvate, more or less united into a lobed or entire calyx, persistent. Petals 5, hypogynous, contorted in the bud. Stamens many, hypogynous; filaments united into a tube surrounding the pistil usually called the staminal column; anthers reniform, 1-celled. Ovary 2–many-celled, of 2 to many carpels whorled round a common axis; carpels either distinct or united; ovules 1 or more to each carpel, attached to the inner angle. Fruit either of dry indehiscent or dehiscent cocci, or a capsule with loculicidal dehiscence. Seeds reniform or obovoid; albumen scanty or wanting; embryo often curved, cotyledons broad, foliaceous.

A large tropical and subtropical order, less common in temperate regions, and not extending either far north or south. Genera about 60; species between 700 and 800. Most of the species possess mucilaginous properties, and all are quite innocuous. Many are cultivated for ornament, and one genus (Glossypium) for the woolly covering which surrounds its seeds, and which constitutes the cotton of commerce. Of the 4 following genera, Hoheria is endemic; Plagianthus is found in Australia, and Gaya in South America; while Hibiscus is universal in warm countries.
A. Staminal column bearing anthers at the top. Carpels closely united in a ring around a central axis, from which they fall away when ripe (Malveæ).
Flowers more or less unisexual. Styles with linear decurrent stigmas. Carpels usually solitary in the New Zealand species 1. Plagianthus.
Flowers perfect. Stigmas capitate. Carpels several, indehiscent, winged at the back 2. Hoheria.
Flowers perfect. Stigmas capitate. Carpels many, 2-valved, not winged 3. Gaya.
B. Staminal column bearing anthers at the side, naked and 5-toothed at the top. Carpels united into a capsule, dehiscing loculicidally (Hibisceæ).
Bracteoles 5 to many. Capsule 5-celled, many-seeded 4. Hibiscus.


Trees or shrubs, rarely herbs. Leaves entire or lobed or serrate. Flowers usually small, hermaphrodite or unisexual, in axillary or terminal fascicles or panicles, or solitary. Bracteoles wanting, or small and distant from the calyx. Calyx 5-toothed or 5-fid. Staminal column split at the top into numerous filaments. Ovary 1-celled or 2–5-celled; ovules 1 in each cell; styles as many as the cells, clavate flattened or filiform, stigmatic along the inner side. Fruit of one or several carpels seceding from a common axis, indehiscent or splitting irregularly. Seed solitary, pendulous.

A small genus of about 12 species, confined to Australia and New Zealand, the species found in each country being endemic. The New Zealand species are practically diœcious, although a few hermaphrodite or female flowers are occasionally mixed with the males.

(Plagianthus Lyallii, Hook. f. Handb. N.Z. Flora, 30, is now referred to Gaya. P. linariifolia, Buch. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xvi. (1884) 394, t. 34, is Coprosma Kirkii, Cheesem.)

Shrub, much branched. Leaves small, linear, entire. Flowers solitary or fascicled 1. P. divaricatus.
Small tree. Leaves linear-oblong, toothed. Flowers in few-flowered cymes 2. P. cymosus.
Tree, 30–60 ft. Leaves ovate or ovate-lanceolate, serrate. Flowers numerous, in decompound panicles 3. P. betulinus.

1. P. divaricatus, Forst. Char. Gen. 86.—A glabrous much-branched shrub 4–8 ft. high; branches tough, slender, divaricating, often much interlaced. Leaves alternate or fascicled on short lateral branchlets; of young plants 1 in. long, linear-oblong, narrowed into rather long petioles, entire or sinuate; of mature plants ¼–¾ in., narrow-linear or narrow linear-obovate, coriaceous, obtuse, quite entire, 1-nerved. Flowers very small, generally unisexual, yellowish-white, solitary or fascicled, axillary; peduncles shorter than the leaves. Calyx hemispherical, 5-toothed. Petals small, oblong-obovate, veined. Staminal tube with 8–12 large sessile anthers. Ovary 1-celled, rarely 2-celled; ovules 1 in each cell; styles the same number as the cells, clavate or flattened. Fruiting carpel about the size of a peppercorn, globose or rarely didymous, downy, bursting irregularly. Seeds solitary, or very rarely 2.—A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 299; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 604; Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 48; Hook. Bot. Mag. t. 3271; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 29; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 30; Buch. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xvi. t. 34, f. 2; Kirk, Students' Fl. 70.

North and South Islands, Chatham Islands: Abundant in salt-water marshes from the North Cape to the Bluff. September–October.

In the male flowers the ovary is smaller, almost rudimentary, and the style altogether enclosed within the staminal column; in the females the style is exserted, and the anthers are smaller and usually empty.

2. P. cymosus, T. Kirk, Students' Fl. 70.—A small closely branched tree about 20 ft. in height, glabrous except a few scattered stellate hairs on the young shoots and branches of the inflorescence. Leaves alternate or in alternate fascicles, ½–1¼ in. long, linear or linear-oblong or linear-obovate, obtuse or subacute, with a few deep serratures towards the tip; petioles slender, ¼–½ in. long. Flowers small, unisexual, in small axillary 5–15-flowered cymes, 1–1½ in. long, or in fascicles of 3–5, rarely solitary. Calyx campanulate, 5-toothed, narrower in the female flowers. Petals 5, ovate-spathulate or oblong-spathulate, much reduced in size in the females. Staminal column long and slender, with numerous anthers at the top. Ovary 1–2-celled; styles 1–2, clavate or broad and flattened. Fruiting carpels about 1/5 in. diam., didymous or globose, downy, seated in the persistent calyx.

North Island: Auckland—Kaitaia, Mongonui County, R. H. Matthews! South Island: Canterbury—Upper Waimakariri, alt. 2800 ft., J. D. Enys (Kirk, "Students' Flora"). Otago—Near Dunedin, G. M. Thomson! Petrie! October.

A very peculiar plant, very distinct in habit and inflorescence, although the flowers closely agree in structure with those of P. betulinus, with the exception that the ovary is frequently 2-celled. It is remarkable that only one tree (a female) has been found in the Dunedin locality, and that only one (a male) is known at Kaitaia. The Waimakariri locality is given on the authority of Mr. Kirk. There are no specimens from thence in his herbarium.

3. P. betulinus, A. Cunn. Precur. n. 605.—A handsome leafy tree 30–60 ft. high, with a trunk sometimes 3 ft. in diam.; when young forming a straggling bush with interlaced tortuous branches. Bark exceedingly tough; branchlets, young leaves, petioles, and inflorescence more or less hoary with stellate hairs. Leaves of young plants small, ⅓–¾ in. long, broadly ovate or rounded to ovate-lanceolate, deeply and irregularly lobed or crenate-serrate. Leaves of mature plants 1–3 in. long, ovate or ovate-lanceolate, acuminate, coarsely crenate-serrate or doubly serrate, rounded or cuneate at the base, membranous; petioles slender, ½–1 in. long. Flowers small, unisexual, very numerous, in terminal and axillary decompound panicles 4–9 in. long; pedicels slender. Calyx campanulate, 5-toothed. Petals oblong-spathulate, obtuse, clawed, much smaller in the female flowers. Staminal column exserted in the males, long and slender, bearing numerous almost sessile anthers at the tip. Fruiting carpels 1/6 in. diam., seated in the persistent veined calyx, ovoid, acuminate, downy. Seed solitary.—Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 48; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 29; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 30; Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 103, 104; Students' Fl. 71. P. urticinus, A. Cunn. Precur. n. 606. P. chathamica, Cockayne in Trans. N.Z . Inst. xxxiv. (1902) 319 (name only). Philippodendron regium, Poit. in Ann. Sc. Nat. ser. ii. viii. t. 3.

North and South Islands, Stewart Island, Chatham Islands: Lowland forests from Mongonui and Kaitaia southwards, but often local. Ascends to 1500ft. November–December. Ribbon-wood of Europeans; manatu of the Maoris.

Practically diœcious, although a few hermaphrodite flowers are sometimes mixed with the males. The male flowers are whitish-yellow, and are produced in immense profusion; the ovary is much reduced in size, and the style always included in the staminal column. The females are greenish, smaller and less numerous, the petals are smaller and adnate for some distance to the staminal column, the anthers are devoid of pollen, and the style exserted.

Mr. Cockayne separates his P. chathamica on the ground of its not passing through a young stage with foliage differing from that of the mature tree. Flowering specimens from the Chatham Islands in my herbarium have rather larger calyces than the type, but I can see no other difference. For a full description of the seedlings and young plants of both forms, reference should be made to Mr. Cockayne's paper, "An Inquiry into the Seedling Forms of New Zealand Phanerogams and their Development, Part IV." (Trans. N.Z. Inst, xxxiii. 273–282).

2. HOHERIA, A. Cunn.

A shrub or small tree. Leaves petiolate, alternate, serrate. Flowers numerous, in axillary fascicles, white; peduncles jointed at the middle. Bracteoles wanting. Calyx hemispherical, 5-toothed. Petals oblique, notched near the apex. Staminal column split at the top into numerous filaments, usually arranged in 5 bundles. Ovary 5-celled, rarely more; ovules 1 in each cell; style-branches as many as the cells, filiform; stigmas capitate. Fruiting carpels 5, placed round a central axis from which they fall away when ripe, indehiscent, furnished with a broad membranous wing at the back. Seed pendulous.

A genus confined to New Zealand. It is doubtful whether it should be regarded as composed of one highly variable species or of 3 or 4 closely allied ones.

1. H. populnea, A. Cunn. Precur. n. 600.—A small handsome tree 10–30 ft. high, glabrous except the young shoots, peduncles, and calyces, which are usually more or less pubescent; bark tough. Leaves extremely variable, especially in young plants, ranging from ovate, ovate-oblong, or ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate or even linear, generally sharply and coarsely dentate or serrate, more rarely obtusely serrate; in young plants often deeply and irregularly lobed or toothed; petioles slender. Flowers in axillary fascicles, snow-white, usually produced in great profusion. Peduncles jointed, pubescent. Carpels produced outwards and upwards into a membranous wing, longer than broad.—Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 30; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 31; Kirk, Students Fl. 71.

Can be most conveniently divided into the following 3 varieties, which possibly should have the rank of species:—

Var. a, vulgaris, Hook. f. l.c.—Leaves coriaceous, ovate, with large sharp teeth; blade 3–5 in. long; petioles 1–2 in. Leaves of young plants differing in size only. Fascicles 5–10-flowered. Flowers ½–¾ in. diam.—Hook. Ic. Plant. t. 565, 566; Kirk, Forest. Fl. t. 53. (H. Sinclairii, Hook. f. Handb. 31, appears to be a form of this with broader more coriaceous obtusely serrate leaves and 2–3-flowered fascicles.)

North Island: North Cape to the Waikato River, abundant. March–May.

Var. b, lanceolata, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 30.—Leaves of mature trees coriaceous, ovate-lanceolate oblong-lanceolate or lanceolate, acute or acuminate, sharply toothed, 2–4 in. long; of young plants smaller, thinner, ovate or rounded-ovate, deeply and irregularly lobed and cut. Flowers smaller and fewer.—Kirk, Forest Fl. tt. 54 f. 2, 54a f. 1, 2, 55 f. A. H. sexstylosa, Col. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xvii. (1885) 238. (Var. cratægifolia, Hook, f., is based upon the leaves of young trees.)

North and South Islands: Bay of Islands to Canterbury, but local north of the Waikato River. February–April.

Var. c, angustifolia, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 30.—Leaves of mature trees smaller, 1–2 in., rarely 1–3 in., membranous, oblong or linear-oblong, obtuse or acute, spinulose-toothed. Flowers smaller; fascicles 2–4-flowered. Leaves of young plants small, suborbicular or obovate-orbicular, 3–5-toothed at the tip, cuneate at the base.—Kirk, Forest Fl. tt. 54 f. 1, 54a f. 3, 54B f. 2, 55 f. 1, 2. H. angustifolia, Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 48, t. 26. Mr. Kirk's subspecies obtusifolia connects this with the previous variety.

North and South Islands: Hawke's Bay to Southland, not uncommon, ascending to 1500 ft. December–February.

An excellent account of the remarkable tendency to variation exhibited by this almost protean species will be found in Kirk's "Forest Flora." The Maoris apply the names hoihere or houhere to varieties a and b indifferently; the European settlers usually call all the forms "ribbon-wood" or "lacebark," names which are, unfortunately, also used for Plagianthus betulinus and Gaya Lyallii.

3. GAYA, H. B. K.

Herbs or shrubs, rarely small trees, usually tomentose with stellate hairs. Flowers pedunculate, axillary or terminal. Bracteoles wanting. Calyx 5-fid. Staminal column split at the apex into numerous filaments. Ovary many-celled; style-branches as many as the cells, filiform; stigmas capitate or truncate; ovules solitary in each cell. Mature carpels membranous, connivent at the apex, separable from the axis, 2-valved at the back and leaving a free appendage within which arises from the base of the carpel and partly surrounds the seed. Seed pendulous or horizontal.

Species 8–12, all South American except the present one, which is endemic in New Zealand.

1. G. Lyallii, J. E. Baker in Journ. Bot. xxx. (1892) 137.—A small graceful spreading tree 15–30 ft. in height; young branches, leaves, petioles, and inflorescence more or less covered with stellate pubescence. Leaves on slender petioles 1–2 in. long; blade 2–4 in., ovate, acuminate, usually deeply doubly crenate, sometimes shortly lobed and crenate, cordate and truncate at the base, membranous. Flowers abundantly produced, large, ¾–1 in. diam., white, in axillary fascicles of 3–5, rarely solitary; peduncles slender, 1–2 in., ebracteolate. Calyx broadly campanulate, 5-lobed; lobes triangular. Petals obliquely obovate, retuse towards the apex. Staminal column short, swollen at the base; filaments numerous, long, filiform. Ovary 10–15-celled; styles long, slender, filiform, free to below the middle; stigmas obliquely capitate. Fruit ½ in. diam., globose, slightly depressed, of about 12 much-flattened membranous reniform carpels. Carpels not winged, 2-valved, 1-seeded. Seed much compressed.—Kirk, Students' Fl. 72. Hoheria Lyallii, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 31, t. 11. Plagianthus Lyallii, Asa Gray ex Hook. f. l.c. ii. 326; Hook. f. Handb. N.Z. Fl. 30; Bot. Mag. t. 5935; Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 134. Sida Lyallii, F. Muell. Veg. Chath. Is. 11.

South Island: Subalpine forests from Nelson to Otago, most plentiful on the western side. Ascends to 3500 ft. Lacebark. December–January.

One of the most beautiful trees of the New Zealand flora, often forming a broad fringe to the subalpine beech forests. It is partly deciduous at high elevations, but is certainly evergreen in the river-valleys of Westland and Nelson, where it is very abundant. There are apparently two forms of flowers, one with long styles almost equalling the stamens, another with styles less than half their length.

4. HIBISCUS, Linn.

Herbs, shrubs, or trees; glabrous, tomentose, or hispid, the hairs usually stellate. Leaves very various, often more or less palmately lobed. Flowers large and showy. Bracteoles numerous, rarely few, usually narrow, free or connate at the base. Calyx 5-toothed or 5-fid, valvate. Petals 5, adnata at the base to the staminal column. Staminal column truncate or 5-toothed at the summit; filaments many, inserted on the sides of the column; anthers reniform. Ovary 5-celled; ovules 3 or more in each cell; styles 5, spreading; stigmas capitate. Capsule loculicidally 5-valved. Seeds glabrous hairy or woolly.

A large and beautiful genus, abundant in the tropical regions of both hemispheres, a few species only extending into the north or south temperate zones. Both the New Zealand species have a wide distribution outside the colony.

Annual or biennial, 1–2 ft. Loaves deeply lobed. Flowers axillary 1. H. trionum.
Perennial, 3–6 ft.; stem prickly. Leaves broad, lobes shallow. Flowers in terminal racemes 2. H. diversifolius.

1. H. trionum, Linn. Sp. Plant. 697.—A simple or branched annual or biennial 1–2 ft. high, scabrous-pubescent or hispid; branches erect or spreading. Leaves very variable, 1–3 in. long, lower orbicular-cordate with 3–5 shallow lobes, middle and upper deeply 3–5-lobed or -partite; segments oblong or lanceolate, coarsely toothed or incised. Flowers on short axillary peduncles, large, 1–1½ in. diam., pale-yellow with a dark-brown centre. Bracteoles 7–12, narrow-linear, hispid. Calyx membranous, inflated, with numerous raised hispid veins, shortly 5-lobed. Capsule ovoid-globose, hirsute, enclosed in the bladdery calyx. Seeds glabrous.—Bot. Mag. t. 209; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 28; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 31; Benth. Fl. Austral. i. 210; Kirk, Students' Fl. 78. H. vesicarius, Cav. Diss. iii. 171, t. 64, f. 2; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 607; Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 48.

North Island: Sheltered places near the sea, from the North Cape to the Auckland Isthmus, rare and local. Hicks Bay, East Cape, Bishop Williams! South Island: South Wanganui, Lyall. In most tropical countries outside America.

2. H. diversifolius, Jacq. Ic. Plant. Rar. t. 551.—A tall stout and rigid perennial 3–6 ft. high, often woody at the base; branches, petioles, and nerves of the leaves covered with short conical prickles. Leaves on stout petioles 2–3 in. long; blade 2–4 in., broadly cordate or nearly orbicular, irregularly toothed, angular or slightly 3–5-lobed, scabrous. Flowers in terminal racemes, large, handsome, 2–3 in. diam., pale-yellow with a dark centre. Pedicels short; bracts lanceolate or 3-fid. Bracteoles 10, linear. Calyx-lobes lanceolate, bristly. Capsule ovoid, acuminate, densely hispid.—Benth. Fl. Austral. i. 213; Kirk in Trans. N.Z. Inst. iii. (1871) 163; Students' Fl. 73.

North Island: Moist sandy places near the sea, from the North Cape to Hokianga and the Bay of Islands, rare, Colenso, Kirk! R. H. Matthews! T. F. C. Also in Australia, the Pacific islands, tropical Africa, &c.

Both this and the preceding species are being rapidly destroyed by cattle, fires, &c., and are now rare or almost extinct in localities where they were plentiful twenty or thirty years ago.