Manual of the New Zealand Flora/Violarieæ

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Manual of the New Zealand Flora by Thomas Frederick Cheeseman
Violarieæ

Order IV. VIOLARIEÆ.

Herbs, shrubs, or small trees. Leaves usually alternate, simple, entire lobed or cut, stipulate. Flowers regular or irregular, axillary, solitary or arranged in cymes or panicles, rarely racemose. Sepals 5, equal or unequal, imbricate. Petals 5, hypogynous, equal or unequal, lower one sometimes spurred, usually imbricate. Stamens 5, hypogynous; filaments short, broad; anthers erect, free or connate round the pistil; connective broad, usually produced beyond the cells into an appendage. Ovary free, 1-celled, with 3–5 parietal placentas; ovules many or few to each placenta. Fruit either a 3–5-valved capsule or a berry. Seeds usually small; embryo straight, in the axis of fleshy albumen.

An order scattered over the whole world, containing 22 genera and about 250 species. The roots of many of the species are emetic, and are used as a substitute for ipecacuanha. One of the New Zealand genera is found in most countries; the other two have a very limited distribution outside the colony.

Herbs. Flowers irregular, the lower petal produced into a spur. Fruit a capsule 1. Viola.
Trees or shrubs. Flowers regular. Fruit a berry.
Anthers free
2. Melicytus.
Anthers coherent
3. Hymenanthera.


1. VIOLA, Linn.

Annual or perennial herbs of small size. Leaves tufted at the top of a short woody rootstock or alternate on creeping or trailing stems, stipulate. Flowers irregular, on radical or axillary 1-fiowered peduncles. Sepals 5, slightly produced at the base. Petals 5, spreading, the lowest usually longer and spurred at the base. Anthers 5, nearly sessile, the connectives flat, produced into a thin membrane beyond the cells, the two lower often spurred at the base. Style swollen above, straight or oblique at the tip. Capsule 3-valved; valves elastic, each with a single parietal placenta. Seeds ovoid or globose.

A large genus, widely diffused in all temperate climates, the species probably numbering considerably over 100. Two of the New Zealand species are endemic, the third extends to Tasmania.

In most of the species of the genus the flowers are dimorphic; some, which are usually produced early in the flowering season, having conspicuous flowers with large petals, as a rule ripening few seeds; others, which appear in late summer or autumn, being much smaller, with either minute petals or none at all, but which ripen abundance of seed. These are usually called cleistogamic flowers.

Stems slender, elongated. Leaves cordate. Stipules and bracts lacerate 1. V. filicaulis.
Stems slender. Leaves cordate. Stipules and bracts entire 2. V. Lyallii.
Stems short. Leaves ovate. Stipules and bracts entire 3. V. Cunninghamii.


1. V. filicaulis, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 16.—Slender, perfectly glabrous. Stems numerous, almost filiform, prostrate, sometimes ascending at the tips. Leaves alternate, ovate-cordate orbicular-cordate or almost reniform, 1423 in. diam., obtuse or subacute, obtusely crenate; petioles slender. Stipules broad, deeply laciniate; teeth filiform, often glandular-tipped. Peduncles slender, 2–4 m. long; bracts about the middle, linear, toothed or lacerate. Flowers 12 in. diam. Sepals linear-lanceolate. Petals spathulate; spur short.—Handb. N.Z. Fl. 16; Kirk, Students' Fl. 40.

Var. hydrocotyloides, Kirk, Students' Fl. 41.—Much smaller, sparingly pilose. Leaves 1614 in. diam. Peduncles short.—V. hydrocotyloides, Armstr. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xiv. (1882) 360.

North and South Islands, Stewart Island: Not uncommon from Whangarei southwards. Var. hydrocotyloides: Otago, Petrie! Stewart Island, Stack! Petrie! Kirk! Altitudinal range from sea-level to 4000ft. November–February.

The long creeping stems, small leaves, and fimbriate bracts and stipules distinguish this from the two following. It produces numerous reduced or cleistogamic flowers late in summer and autumn.


2. V. Lyallii, Hook. f. Handb. N.Z. Fl. 16.—Perfectly glabrous. Stems slender, shorter than in V. filicaulis, ascending at the tips. Leaves 13–1 in. diam., broadly ovate or rounded, deeply cordate at the base, obtuse or subacute, obscurely crenate or nearly entire; petioles variable in length, 2–6 in. Stipules linear, entire. Peduncles very slender, variable in length, 3–7 in. Bracts usually above the middle, linear, entire. Flowers 12 in. diam., white streaked with lilac and yellow.—Kirk, Students' Fl. 41. V. Cunninghamii var. gracilis, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 16. Erpetion spathulatum, A. Cunn. Prodr. n. 622 (non G. Don.).

North and South Islands: Not uncommon from Kaitaia and Hokianga southwards; ascending to 4000 ft. on the Mount Arthur Plateau, Nelson. October–January.

Usually a larger plant than the preceding, with the stem not so decidedly creeping, larger leaves and longer petioles, and with the stipules and bracts entire, not lacerate. The cordate leaves separate it from V. Cunninghamii.


3. V. Cunninghamii, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 16.—Glabrous except the petioles, which are occasionally pubescent. Rootstock often somewhat woody, creeping below, often branched above. Leaves tufted at the top of the rootstock, or on short branches springing from it, 12–1 in. diam., triangular-ovate or ovate-oblong, truncate at the base or narrowed into the petiole, obtuse or sub-acute, obscurely crenate; petioles short or long. Stipules adnate at the base to the petiole, usually entire, acute. Peduncles slender, exceeding the leaves; bracts linear, acute. Flowers 1323 in. diam., white, usually streaked with lilac and yellow. Sepals linear-oblong. Lateral petals bearded.—Handb. N.Z. Fl. 16; Kirk, Students' Fl. 41. V. perexigua, Col. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xvi. (1884) 326.

North and South Islands, Stewart Island: From Rotorua and the East Cape southwards; abundant in many places, especially in the mountains. Chatham Islands: Buchanan (Trans. N.Z. Inst. vii. 334). Altitudinal range from sea-level to 5000 ft. October–January. Also found in Tasmania.

The short stems and tufted leaves, which are usually either truncate at the base or narrowed into the petioles, are the best distinguishing characters of this plant. It varies greatly in size; lowland specimens, growing among scrub, &c., sometimes have the petioles 8–9 in. long, and the peduncles of corresponding size, while alpine specimens are frequently much depauperated. The flowers of the latter, however, are usually larger than those of the lowland forms.

2. MELICYTUS, Forst.

Trees or shrubs. Leaves petiolate, alternate, toothed or serrate; stipules minute. Flowers small, regular, diœcious, in little fascicles on the branches or axillary. Sepals 5, united at the base. Petals 5, short, spreading. Anthers 5, free, sessile; connective produced above into a broad membrane furnished with a scale at the back. Ovary 1-celled, with 3–5 parietal placentas. Style 3–6-fid at the apex, or stigma nearly sessile, lobed. Fruit a berry, with few or several angled seeds.

A small genus, limited to the four New Zealand species, one of which is also found in Norfolk Island and the Tongan Islands.

Leaves oblong or oblong-lanceolate, serrate 1. M. ramiflorus.
Leaves large, obovate, coriaceous, sinuate serrate 2. M. macrophyllus.
Leaves long, linear-lanceolate, sharply and finely serrate 3. M. lanceolatus.
Leaves small, orbicular-ovate, sinuate-toothed 4. M. micranthus.


1. M. ramiflorus, Forst. Char. Gen. 124, t. 62.—A glabrous tree or large shrub 20–30 ft. high, with a trunk 1–2 ft. in diam.; bark white; branches brittle. Leaves alternate, 2–5 in. long, oblong-lanceolate, usually with a short acuminate point but sometimes obtuse, bluntly and sometimes obscurely serrate, veins reticulate; petioles short, slender; stipules deciduous. Flowers small, 18 in. diam., greenish, diœcious, in axillary fascicles or on the branches below the leaves; pedicels slender, 13 in. long, with 2 minute bracts. Calyx-teeth 5, minute. Petals obtuse, spreading. Male flowers with 5 obtuse sessile anthers, each with a concave scale at the back. Females with a short conical ovary, crowned with a 4–6-lobed stigma. Berry small, violet-blue, 15 in. diam.; seeds few, black, angled.—A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 313; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 623; Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 48; Hook. f. Fl.Nov. Zel. i. 18; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 17; Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 3; Students' Fl. 42.

Kermadec Islands, North and South Islands, Stewart Island: Abundant throughout, ascending to fully 3000 ft. Mahoe. November–January. Also found in Norfolk Island and the Tongan Islands.

The leaves and young branches are greedily eaten by cattle; the wood is white and soft, but has been employed for producing a special kind of charcoal used in making gunpowder.


2. 'M. macrophyllus, A. Cunn. Precur. n. 624.—A tall slender sparingly branched shrub 8–15 ft. high; bark brownish. Leaves 3–7 in. long, obovate or oblong, coarsely sinuate-serrate, acute or shortly acuminate, coriaceous; petioles short. Flowers twice as large as those of M. ramiflorus, 14 in. diam., greenish, in 4–10-flowered fascicles; pedicels stout, decurved, 12 in. long, with 2 rounded bracts just below the flower. Male flowers: Calyx-lobes broad, obtuse. Petals more than twice as long as the calyx, spreading, strap-shaped, recurved at the tips. Anthers sessile, apiculate. Females: Calyx of the males. Petals shorter, more erect, barely half as long again as the calyx. Style short, stout; stigma broad, discoid, 3–5-lobed. Berry globose, 14 in. diam.; seeds 4–6.—Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 48; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 18; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 17; Kirk, Students' Fl. 42.

North Island: Not uncommon in hilly forests from Kaitaia southwards to the Waikato River. South Island: Waikari Creek, near Dunedin, G. M. Thomson! Petrie! Sea-level to 2000 ft. September–October.

Easily distinguished from M. ramiflorus by the larger, more coriaceous, obovate leaves, and larger flowers on decurved pedicels, with the bracts placed just below the flowers. The Otago specimens have smaller leaves, but are not otherwise different.


3. M. lanceolatus, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 18, t. 8.—A slender glabrous shrub 6–15 ft. high, with brownish bark; branches succulent, brittle. Leaves 3–6in. long, lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, acuminate, finely and sharply serrate, membranous; petioles short. Flowers small, in 2–5-flowered fascicles; pedicels short, slender, decurved, with 2 bracts above the middle. Calyx-lobes oblong, obtuse or subacute. Petals erect, recurved at the tip. Connective of the anthers produced into a long subulate point. Style long; stigmas 3, minute. Berry globose, 14 in. diam., blue-black when fully ripe; seeds 6–12, angled, minutely tubercled.—Handb. N.Z. Fl. 17; Kirk, Students' Fl. 43.

North and South Islands, Stewart Island: Not uncommon in forests south of Whangarei. Ascends to 3000 ft. on Te Aroha Mountain. October–November.

This can be recognised by the narrow leaves, subulate appendage to the anthers, long 3-fid style, and minutely tuberculate seeds. The anthers often cohere at the back, as in Hymenanthera, but in habit and other respects the species agrees better with Melicytus.


4. M. micranthus, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 18.—A shrub or small tree 5–15 ft. in height, very variable in habit, sometimes a much-branched bush with tortuous and interlaced rigid branches, at other times a small tree with a compact head and slender trunk 2–5 in. diam.; branchlets pubescent at the tips. Leaves alternate or fascicled on short lateral branchlets, coriaceous, small, 15–1 in. long, oblong-obovate or obovate or orbicular-obovate, obtuse, sinuate or toothed, rarely lobed; petioles short, puberulous. Flowers minute, axillary, solitary or 2–3 together; pedicels longer or shorter than the petioles, pubescent. Male flowers: Calyx-lobes short, rounded, often ciliate. Petals twice as long as the calyx, broadly oblong, obtuse. Anthers sessile, very broad, rounded, obtuse, connective flat. Females: Calyx and petals of the males. Abortive anthers present. Ovary ovoid; style short, thick; stigma large, discoid, with 3–5 fleshy lobes. Berry oval or subglobose, 1814 in. diam., purple or purple-black. Seeds 1–4, smooth or angled.—Handb. N.Z. Fl. 17; Kirk, Students' Fl. 43. Elæodendron micranthum, Hook. f. in Lond. Journ. Bot. iii. 228, t. 8.

Var. longiusculus.—Leaves usually larger, 12–1 in., oblong-obovate. Flowers on longer pedicels. Fruit small, globose, 1816 in.

Var. microphyllus.—Leaves smaller, 1512 in., orbicular-obovate. Pedicels shorter. Fruit large, ovoid, 1614 in.—M. microphyllus, Col. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xix. (1887) 260, and xx. (1888) 189.

North and South Islands: Abundant in lowland forests, by the side of streams, &c., from the Bay of Islands to Otago. November–May.

Easily distinguished from all other species of Melicytus by the stiff rigid habit, small leaves, and minute few-seeded berries. It is exceedingly variable; and the two varieties characterized above are certainly connected by intermediate forms. I am much indebted to Mr. Carse for a fine series of flowering and fruiting specimens of both varieties, collected near Mauku, where they appear to grow intermixed. Mr. Colenso's herbarium also contains numerous well-selected specimens.


3. HYMENANTHERA, R. Br.

Rigid woody shrubs. Leaves alternate or fascicled, entire or toothed; stipules minute, fugacious. Plowers small, regular, hermaphrodite or unisexual, solitary or fascicled, axillary or on the naked branches below the leaves. Sepals 5, obtuse, united at the base. Petals 5, rounded at the tip. Anthers 5, sessile, connate into a tube surrounding the pistil; connectives terminating in a toothed or fimbriate process, and furnished with an erect scale at the back. Style short; stigma 2-fid, rarely 3–4-fid. Fruit a small subglobose berry; seeds usually 2, rarely 3–4.

A small genus of about half & dozen species, found in New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania, and Norfolk Island. The New Zealand species are exceedingly difficult of discrimination. They vary greatly in the leaves and vegetative characters generally; and the flowers and fruit, so far as they are known, are very similar in all. Most of them occur in localities which are not easily reaciied, making it difficult to secure specimens in a proper state for comparison.

Much-branched rigid maritime shrub. Leaves small, linear-spathulate or linear-obovate, 18–1 in. long 1. H. crassifolia.
Shrub, often leafless. Branches flexuous or zigzag, interlaced. Leaves linear or linear-cuneate, 1434 in. long 2. H. dentata, var. angustifolia.
Slender glabrous shrub. Leaves oblong-obovate, 34–2 in. long, quite entire. Flowers solitary or geminate 3. H. obovata.
Stout spreading shrub. Leaves large, 112–4 in., ovate-oblong to obovate, sinuate-toothed. Flowers numerous. Berry 2-seeded 4. H. latifolia.
Tall erect shrub. Leaves large, 3–5 in., lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, serrate. Flowers numerous. Berry 4-seeded 5. H. chathamica.


1. H. crassifolia, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 17, t. 7.—A low rigid much-branched shrub 2–4 ft. in height; branches tortuous, stout and woody; bark white, furrowed; branchlets pubescent. Leaves alternate or fascicled, very thick and coriaceous, 13–112 in. long, linear-spathulate or linear-obovate, entire sinuate or toothed, rarely lobed, rounded at the apex or retuse; petioles very short. Stipules minute, fugacious. Flowers very small, solitary or few together, axillary; peduncles shorter than the flowers, decurved, with one or two broad concave bracts below the middle. Sepals orbicular, with fimbriate margins. Petals narrow-oblong, obtuse, recurved at the apex. Anthers 5, the broad membranous connectives connate into a tube which has a fimbriate projection above each anther and a broad scale at the back. Ovary 1-celled; style 2-fid. Berry purplish, broadly oblong, 1614in. diam.; seeds 2.—Handb. N.Z. Fl. 18; Kirk, Students' Fl. 44. Scævola (?) novæ-zealandiæ, A. Cunn. Precur. n. 429.

North Island: Maritime rocks opposite the Cavallos Islands, R. Cunn.; Cape Palliser, Colenso! Port Nicholson, Kirk! South Island: Coast between Nelson and Croixelles Harbour, Kirk! T. F. C.; Pelorus Sound, J. Rutland; Banks Peninsula, Armstrong. Otago—Hampden, Moeraki, Dunedin, Balclutha, Petrie! Stewart Island: Kirk. October–November.

A variable plant. One of Mr. Colenso's Cape Palliser specimens has slender branches bearing ovate-rhomboid leaves 1 in. long, the same branch also having linear- obovate leaves of the ordinary type.


2. H. dentata, R. Br., var. angustifolia, Benth. Fl. Austral. i. 104.—A much-branched frequently leafless rigid shrub, in sheltered situations 4–8 ft. high, with fiexuous or zigzag often interlaced branches; in exposed or alpine places shorter and much dwarfed, with the branches densely compacted and ending in stout thorns. Branchlets terete or grooved, covered with minute lenticels. Leaves few or many, often altogether wanting, alternate or fascicled, 1434 in. long, linear or linear-cuneate or linear-obovate, obtuse or retuse, entire or sinuate or irregularly lobed, varying from almost membranous to thick and coriaceous, narrowed into very short petioles. Flowers minute, solitary or geminate, on very short decurved peduncles, diœcious. Male flowers: Sepals rounded, with fimbriate margins. Petals twice as long as the sepals, linear-oblong, recurved at the tips. Connective of the anthers with a narrow appendage toothed or fimbriate at the tip, and an oblong scale at the back. Females: Calyx and petals of the males, but rather smaller. Abortive anthers present. Style 2-fid. Berry 2-seeded; seeds oblong, flat on the inner face, convex on the outer.—Kirk, Students' Fl. 44.

Var. alpina, Kirk, l.c.—Much depressed, 1–2 ft. in diam., forming a mass of densely compacted short and thick spinous branches. Leaves 1613 in. long, oblong- or linear-obovate, very thick and coriaceous.

North Island: Wellington—Turangarere, A. Hamilton! Upper Rangitikei, Petrie! South Island: Nelson—Wairoa Valley, Bryant! Wangapeka Valley, Wairau Gorge, T. F. C. Canterbury—J. B. Armstrong. Otago—Paradise, near Mount Earnslaw, Kirk! Catlin's River, Kelso, Petrie! Winton, B. C. Aston! Var. alpina: Broken River, Canterbury, Kirk! Enys! T. F. C. Also found in Tasmania.

In its usual state this curious plant is best distinguished from H. crassifolia by the more slender frequently leafless branches, which are usually thickly dotted with minute lenticels, and by the narrower leaves. The Nelson specimens, which are the only ones I have seen in flower, are certainly diœcious, but Tasmanian specimens are said to be hermaphrodite.

3. H. obovata, T. Kirk in Trans. N.Z. Inst, xxvii. (1895) 350.—An erect glabrous shrub 4–12 ft. in height, in sheltered places slender and sparingly branched, in more exposed situations forming a compactly branched bush. Leaves of mature plants 34–2 in. long, obovate or oblong-obovate. thick and coriaceous, obtuse or retuse, quite entire, gradually narrowed into a short petiole; margins slightly recurved. Leaves of seedling plants membranous, obovate-cuneate, toothed or lobed. Flowers small, solitary or geminate, axillary or on the branches below the leaves, apparently diœcious, but not seen in a state fit for description. Berry ovoid, purplish, 2-seeded; seeds plano-convex.—Students' Fl. 44.

South Island: Nelson—Between Takaka and Riwaka, Kirk! Graham River, Mount Arthur, Mount Owen, T. F. C. Marlborough—Queen Charlotte Sound, Banks and Solander! Canterbury—Broken River, Kirk! Ashburton Mountains, T. H. Potts! Altitudinal range from 1000 to 4000ft. November.

A well-marked plant, at once recognised by the usually slender habit, strict branches, and entire obovate leaves. It is generally found on limestone rocks.


4. H. latifolia, Endl. Prodr. Fl. Ins. Norfolk, 70.—A stout sparingly branched shrub 3–10 ft. high; branches erect or straggling; bark covered with minute lenticels. Leaves alternate, variable in size and shape, 112–4 in. long, ovate or ovate-lanceolate to obovate or obovate-oblong, coriaceous, obtuse or subacute, narrowed into a short stout petiole, sinuate or sinuate-serrate, rarely entire; margin thickened, slightly recurved; veins reticulate. Flowers diœcious, fascicled, 110 in. diam. Males: Often very numerous and clustered on the branches for a considerable length; pedicels decurved, bracteolate about the middle. Sepals ovate, obtuse, free almost to the base. Petals twice as long as the sepals, linear-oblong, erect at the base, revolute at the tips. Anthers 5; connectives produced into a long and narrow projection above each anther which is almost as long as the anther and jagged at the tip. Females: Smaller and less numerous, on shorter pedicels, usually erect. Sepals and petals as in the males. Ovary ovoid; stigmas 2. Berry broadly ovoid or nearly globose, purplish; seeds 2, plano-convex, grooved on the convex face, with a large strophiole.—Kirk, Students' Fl. 45. H. latifolia var. tasmanica, Kirk in Trans. N.Z. Inst. iii. 163.

North Island: Three Kings Islands, T. F. C.; North Cape Peninsula, Buchanan! Kirk! T. F. C.; Taranga Islands, Kirk! T. F. C.; Great Barrier and adjacent islets. Kirk! Little Barrier Island, Kirk, T. F. C, Miss Shakespear! Waiheke Island, rare, Kirk; Cuvier Island, T. F. C; Shoe Island, J. Adams! August–September. Also in Norfolk Island.

The identification of this plant with the Norfolk Island H. latifolia must not be considered as proved until specimens from both localities have been compared. The large broad leaves and numerous flowers separate it from its New Zealand allies.

5. H. chathamica, T. Kirk in Trans. N.Z. Inst, xxviii. (1896) 514.—An erect glabrous shrub; bark furrowed, dotted with minute lenticels. Leaves alternate, 2–5 in. long, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, coriaceous, acute, narrowed into a short petiole, sharply toothed; margins thickened; veins reticulate on both surfaces. Flowers in crowded fascicles along the branches, diœcious; pedicels slender, longer than the flowers, decurved. Male flowers: Sepals ovate, free almost to the base. Petals more than twice as long as the sepals, revolute at the tips. Anthers with a lanceolate jagged connective more than half as long as the cells; dorsal scale cuneate-spathulate. Female flowers not seen. Berry ovoid or subglobose, white, usually 4-seeded. Seeds angled, outer surface convex; strophiole small.—Students' Fl. 45. H. latifolia var. chathamica, F. Muell. Veg. Chatham Is. 9.

North Island: Wellington—Patea, Hector! Chatham Islands: Capt. G. Mair! H. H. Travers! F. A. D. Cox! Mahoe. September–October.

There is little to separate this from the preceding except the longer and narrower sharply toothed leaves and the 4-seeded berry, and I doubt the constancy of this latter character. Sir James Hector's Patea specimens have neither flowers nor fruit, but appear to belong to the same species.