Melicytus: From the Greek meli (honey) and kytos (hollow container), referring to the staminal nectaries of the flowers. Literally "honey-cave"
mahoe, hinahina, whitey wood
Current Conservation Status
2012 - Not Threatened
Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB
Previous Conservation Status
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened
Melicytus ramiflorus J.R.Forst. et G.Forst.
Common small tree with a knobbly pale trunk and thin light green toothed leaves that have the vein network much more visible on the paler underside. Leaves 5-20cm long, tapering to tip. Flowers greenish, in clusters along twigs. Fruit purple.
Vascular - Native
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank
is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs
Melicytus ramiflorus J.R.Forst. et G.Forst. subsp. ramiflorus
Endemic subspecies. Three other subspecies occur, one endemic to Norfolk (probably a different species), one to Fiji and one to Samoa. In addition forms from Raoul Island (Kermadec Islands Group) and the Three Kings and eastern Northland may warrant formal recognition. Research into this variation is in progress.
Abundant small tree of coastal, lowland, and lower montane forests throughout the country.
Shrub or small tree up to 15 m tall. Trunk 1 or more, 0.6-0.8 m diam, typically much branched from near base. Wood soft, white. Bark greyish-white, underbark bright green. Branchlets numerous, twiggy, rather brittle. Petioles 20 mm or more long. Leaves, firmly fleshy, 50-150 x 30-50 mm, light or dark green, lanceolate-oblong to elliptic oblong, apex acute to acuminate (rarely obtuse), leaf margins coarsely serrated (very rarely subentire, or irregularly coarsely toothed). Inflorescence 2-10 flowered fascicles arising from branchlets or leaf axils. Flowers 3-4 mm diam., female or inconstant male (flowers types on separate plants) borne on slender pedicels 5-10 mm long. Bracts subtending flowers, calyx lobes minute, petals greenish-yellow, yellow (rarely cream), lanceolate, apex obtuse. Anthers sessile, stigma 4-6-lobed. Fruit a violet, dark blue or purple berry, 4-5 mm diam., obovoid to globose. Seeds 3-6 per berry.
Most frequently confused with M. macrophyllus which differs by the leathery, somewhat fleshy dark green, often mottled purple, obovate-oblong leaves with rather coarse serrations. Flowers are also larger (6.5-8 mm diam.) and the broader petals are usually white. M. macrophyllus is a species of kauri forests, and is not known with certainty south of Auckland City. The Waikari Creek (near Dunedin) record cited in the New Zealand Flora is the result of specimen mislabelling.
November - February
November - March
Easy from fresh seed. Can be grown from semi-hardwood cuttings but generally slow without a mist unit.
2n = 32
Where To Buy
Commonly cultivated and often available from commercial nurseries. In many urban areas abutting indigenous forest mahoe self naturalises into gardens. The fruits are bird dispersed, so plants can also appear many kilometres from forest remnants.
Past treatments have recognised four subspecies in M. ramiflorus, subsp. oblongifolius of Norfolk Island, subsp. fastigiata of Fiji and subsp. samoensis of Samoa. Recent treatments, particularly that of Art Whistler have advocated that all of these subspecies should be regarded as distinct species. NZPCN has followed this recent opinion.
This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014