T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Nestegis cunninghamii (Black Maire)

Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Asterids
Order:Lamiales
Family:Oleaceae
Tribe:Oleeae
Genus:Nestegis
Species: N cunninghamii
Scientific name: Nestegis cunninghamii
Common name: Black maire

Black maire (Nestegis cunninghamii) is a tall handsome canopy tree with a stout straight trunk growing up to 23 m high. Now found only in isolated North Island forests. The long leaves are leathery but smaller in adult trees. Black maire has dense, even-grained timber, dark brown in colour and often streaked with black and is very hard. The bark is rough and corky. Red fruits (sometimes yellow) are profuse, giving the tree a bright yellow glow. Maori used it for digging sticks and mallets, and as wedges for splitting wood. In the 1900s boatbuilders also favoured black maire timber for their mallets. Black maire burns slowly with great heat, and between the 1920s and 1960s most accessible stands were felled for firewood. The timber was also used for framing railway carriages and machinery, and building bridges, flooring, weatherboards, some furniture In recent years windfallen or recycled maire is used it has been used for wood-turning and specialist items such as golf-putter heads and woodwind instruments.

A Nestegis cunninghamii withthe typical broad rounded crown growing on Honeysuckle Flat on the Te Henui Walkway. 

Branch structure




Close up of the top surface of a leaf


Mid-rib is sunken in a shallow grove at the base of the leaf.


The underside of a leaf.


The green fruit (late April,Taranaki). They turn red but sometimes turn yellow.




The trunk