Manual of the New Zealand Flora/Tiliaceæ

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Trees or shrubs, rarely herbs. Leaves alternate, seldom opposite, simple, entire or toothed or lobed. Stipules usually present, often caducous. Flowers regular, hermaphrodite or unisexual, axillary or terminal, usually cymose. Sepals 3–5, free or connate, generally valvate. Petals the same number as the sepals or fewer, rarely wanting, imbricate or valvate, entire cut or multifid. Stamens numerous, rarely few, usually inserted on the torus, which is often elevated and disc-like; anthers 2-celled. Ovary free, 2–10-celled; style simple or divided into as many lobes or stigmas as there are cells to the ovary; ovules few or many, attached to the inner angle of the cell. Fruit dry or fleshy, dehiscent or indehiscent, 2–10-celled, or by abortion 1-celled. Seeds solitary or many; albumen usually copious, fleshy; embryo straight or seldom curved, radicle next the hilum.

An order comprising about 45 genera and 350 species, chiefly tropical and subtropical. One genus (Tilia) is found in the north temperate zone; and several are endemic in southern latitudes or extend thereto. The most important economic plant is Corchorus capsularis, which yields the fibre known as jute. All the species are innocuous. Of the three New Zealand genera, Entelea is endemic; Aristotelia extends to Australia, Tasmania, and temperate South America; while Elæocarpus is mainly Indian and Malayan, stretching southwards to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands.

Leaves large, alternate. Capsule clothed with rigid bristles 1. Entelea.
Leaves opposite. Fruit a berry 2. Aristotelia.
Leaves alternate. Fruit a drupe 3. Elæocarpus.


A shrub or small tree. Leaves large, alternate, cordate, 5–7-nerved, toothed or crenate. Flowers in terminal umbelliform cymes, large, white, bracteate. Sepals 4–5, free. Petals the same number, crumpled. Stamens numerous, all fertile, free; anthers versatile. Ovary 4–6-celled; style simple; stigma terminal, denticulate or fringed; ovules numerous in each cell. Capsule globose, covered with long rigid bristles, loculicidally 4–6-valved. Seeds numerous, obovoid; testa coriaceous; albumen oily.

The genus consists of a single endemic species. It is very closely allied to the South African Sparmannia.

1. E. arborescens, R.Br. in Bot. Mag. t. 2480.—A handsome shrub or small tree 8–20 ft. high, with a trunk 5–9 in. diam.; wood exceedingly light. Young branches, leaves, petioles, and inflorescence covered with short soft stellate hairs. Leaves alternate, large, on petioles 4–8 in. long; blade 4–9 in. or more, obliquely rounded-ovate, cordate at the base, acuminate, irregularly doubly crenate-serrate, often obscurely 3-lobed, 5–7-nerved from the base; stipules persistent. Flowers very abundant, in erect terininal or axillary cymes, white, lin. diam. Sepals acuminate. Ovary hispid. Capsule 1 in. diam., globose, echinate with long rigid bristles.—A. Cunn. Precur. n. 601; Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 48; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 31; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 32; Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 33; Students Fl. 74. Apeiba australis, A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 301, t. 34.

North Island: Not uncommon along the shores from the Three Kings and the North Cape to Tairua and Eaglan, rare and local further south. East Cape district, Banks and Solander! J. Adams; Hawke's Bay, Colenso! Cape Palliser and Paikakariki, Kirk; Urenui, Taranaki, T. F. C. South Island: Collingwood, Hector; islands near Cape Farewell, Kingsley. Whau, Hauma. October-January. Greedily eaten by cattle and horses, and consequently fast becoming rare on the mainland, except in comparatively inaccessible situations. It is still plentiful on most of the small outlying islands on the north-east coast of the Auckland District, often exhibiting great luxuriance. On Cuvier Island I measured leaves with petioles 2 ft. long, with a blade 1ft. 6 in. diam. The wood is extremely light, the specific gravity being much less than that of cork. It is frequently used by the Maoris for the floats of fishing-nets.


Shrubs or trees. Leaves opposite or nearly so, entire or toothed, exstipulate. Flowers small, unisexual, axillary or lateral, racemose or rarely solitary. Sepals 4–5, valvate. Petals the same number, 3-lobed, toothed or entire, inserted round the base of the thickened torus. Stamens numerous or 4–5, inserted on the torus. Ovary 2–4-celled; ovules 2 in each cell; styles subulate. Fruit a berry. Seeds ascending or pendulous, often pulpy on the outside of the hard testa.

A small genus of 9 species, 3 of which are found in Australia, 1 in the New Hebrides, 2 in South America, and the 3 following in New Zealand.

Leaves large, membranous. Racemes panicled, many-flowered 1. A. racemosa.
Leaves large, not so membranous as the preceding. Racemes simple or only slightly compound 2. A. Colensoi.
Leaves small, coriaceous. Flowers few together or solitary 3. A. fruticosa.

1. A. racemosa, Hook. f Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 33.—A small graceful tree 8–25 ft. high; bark of young branches red, becoming darker with age; branchlets, young leaves, petioles, and inflorescence pubescent. Leaves opposite or nearly so, 2–5 in. long, ovate or ovate-cordate, acuminate, thin and membranous, deeply and irregularly acutely serrate, often reddish beneath; petioles long and slender. Flowers small, 1/6 in. diam., rose-coloured, in many-flowered axillary panicles, diœcious; the males rather larger than the females; pedicels slender. Petals 4, 3-lobed at the tip, smaller in the female flowers. Stamens numerous, minutely hairy; anthers longer than the filaments. Female flowers: Ovary 3–4-celled; styles the same number. Fruit a 3–4-celled berry about the size of a pea, dark-red or almost black. Seeds usuallv about 8, angular.—Handb. N.Z. Fl. 33; T. Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 113; Students' Fl. 75. Friesia racemosa, A. Cunn. Precur. n. 603; Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 48; Hook. Ic. Plant, t. 601.

North and South Islands, Stewart Island: Common in lowland forests throughout, ascending to nearly 2000 ft. Makomako, wineberry. September–November.

An abundant and well-known plant, usually the first to appear after the forest has been cut down. The wood is largely employed for making charcoal for the manufacture of gunpowder.

2. A. Colensoi, Hook. f Handb. N.Z. Fl. 33.—A shrub or small tree 6–15 ft. high, very similar in general appearance to A. racemosa, but the leaves are firmer in texture, sometimes narrower and ovate-lanceolate, usually quite glabrous, green below. Racemes simple, rarely compound, few-flowered. Berry smaller, the size of a peppercorn.—Kirk, Students' Fl. 75.

North Island: Wairarapa Valley, Colenso! South Island: Subalpine forests from Nelson to Otago, apparently not common.

A puzzling plant. There is an unnamed specimen of old date in Mr. Colenso's herbarium which agrees perfectly with Hooker's description; but all the South Island specimens that I have seen have broader and less acuminate leaves. Probably all are nothing more than forms of A. racemosa.

3. A. fruticosa, Hook. f Fl. Nov. Zel. i, 34.—A very variable much-branched erect or decumbent shrub 3–8 ft. high; branches often close and rigid; bark red-brown; branchlets, petioles, and pedicels pubescent. Leaves excessively variable, of young plants linear or lanceolate, ½–1½ in. long, acute or acuminate, toothed lobed or pinnatifid; on mature plants ¼–1 in. long, ovate-obovate or oblong-obovate or linear-oblong, obtuse, coriaceous, entire crenate serrate or shortly lobed; petioles short, stout. Flowers small, axillary, solitary or in 3–6-flowered racemes or cymes; pedicels short, pubescent. Sepals 4, oblong, obtuse, pubescent. Petals 4, shorter or longer than the sepals, entire or with 1–4 irregular shallow notches at the apex. Stamens 4–6; filaments very short. Berry very small, globose. Seeds usually 4.—Handb. N.Z. Fl. 33; Kirk, Students' Fl. 75. A. erecta, Buch. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. iii. (1871) 209. Myrsine brachyclada. Col. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xxii. (1890) 478.

North and South Islands, Stewart Island: Mountainous districts from the Thames southwards, but rare north of the East Cape. Ascends to 4000 ft.

One of the most variable plants in New Zealand. There seem to be two well-marked forms—one with an erect and comparatively open habit of growth, larger leaves, and 4–6-flowered racemes, answering to the A. erecta of Buchanan; the other is often decumbent, with rigid and interlaced often tortuous branches, smaller leaves, and frequently solitary flowers.


Trees. Leaves usually alternate, entire or serrate, exstipulate. Flowers hermaphrodite, rarely polygamous, in axillary racemes. Sepals 4 or 5, distinct, valvate. Petals the same number, laciniate at the apex, inserted round a cushion-shaped torus. Stamens numerous, seated on the torus; anthers long, awned, opening by a terminal slit. Ovary 2–5-celled; ovules 2 or more in each cell, pendulous; style subulate; stigma terminal, simple. Fruit a drupe with a hard or bony stone, which is 2–5-celled or by abortion 1-celled. Seeds solitary in each cell, pendulous; albumen fleshy; cotyledons broad.

A large genus, containing about 60 species. Most plentiful in the hotter parts of India and the Malay Archipelago, a few species only extending to Australia, the Pacific islands, and New Zealand. Both our species are endemic.

Branchlets silky. Leaves linear-obovate, margins recurved 1. E. dentatus.
Branchlets glabrous. Leaves linear-oblong or lanceolate, margins flat 2. E. Hookerianus.

1. E. dentatus, Vahl. Symb. Bot. iii. 66.—A round-headed tree 40–60 ft. in height; trunk slender, straight, 1–3 ft. diam.; branchlets often bare of leaves except at the tips, silky when young. Leaves erect, on short stout petioles 12–1 in. long; blade 2–4 in., linear-oblong obovate-oblong or obovate-lanceolate, narrowed below, obtuse or shortly acuminate, coriaceous, obscurely sinuate-serrate, often white with fine appressed silky hairs beneath; margins recurved. Racemes numerous, 8–12-flowered, silky, usually shorter than the leaves. Flowers drooping, ⅓–½ in. diam., white. Petals obovate-cuneate, lacerate. Stamens 10–20; filaments very short; anthers linear, with a flat recurved tip. Ovary silky, 2-celled. Drupe about ½ in. long, oblong or ovoid, purplish-grey; stone rugose, 1-celled, 1-seeded.—Hook. f. Handb. N.Z. Fl. 34; T. Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 11; Students' Fl. 76. E. Hinau, A. Cunn. Precur. n. 602; Hook. Ic. Plant. t. 602; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 32. E. Cunninghamii, Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 25. Dicera dentata et D. serrata, Forst. Char. Gen. 80. Eriostemon dentatus, Colla. Hort. Ripul. 52, t. 30.

North and South Islands: Not uncommon in lowland forests from the North Cape to Catlin's River, Otago. Altitudinal range from sea-level to 2000 ft. Hinau. October–November.

The fruit was formerly eaten by the Maoris, the pulpy part being rubbed off the stone, steeped in water, and then made into large cakes, which were baked for a day or two. They also obtained a black dye from the bark, which was used for dyeing their flax cloaks, and is still employed for that purpose by a few of the inland tribes. The wood is durable, but is little employed, although a figured variety is now coming into use for panelling and furniture.

2. E. Hookerianus, Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 26, t. 25.—A small glabrous tree 20–40 ft. high, with a trunk 1–3 ft. diam.; bark pale. Young plants with numerous tortuous and interlaced branches, which bear narrow-linear leaves ½–2 in. long, sinuate or irregularly toothed or lobed or almost pinnatifid, occasionally broadly obovate or almost orbicular. Leaves of mature plants l12–3 in. long, elliptical or linear-oblong or lanceolate, coriaceous, obtuse, sinuate-crenate or serrate; margins flat; petioles short, ¼–½ in. long. Racemes slender, spreading, shorter than the leaves. Flowers greenish-white, small, drooping. Sepals lanceolate. Petals slightly longer than the sepals, 4–5-lobed at the tip. Drupe similar to that of E. dentatus, but smaller, 13 in. long.—Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 32; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 34; T. Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 12, 13; Students' Fl. 76.

North and South Islands, Stewart Island: Forests from Mongonui and Kaitaia southwards, but exceedingly local north of the Auckland Isthmus. Altitudinal range from sea-level to 3000 ft. Pokaka. November–January.

The variability of the leaves in young plants is most remarkable. As the young tree grows up it is not uncommon to find on the lower branches a curious mixture of linear, obovate, or almost orbicular leaves, which may be nearly entire or deeply lobulate; while on the upper branches the leaves have already assumed the shape of the mature stage.