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


Leionema nudum ( Mairehau)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Leionema
Species: L. nudum
Binomial Name: Leionema nudum (nudum = naked)
Synonym: Phebalium nudum
Common names: Mairehau, Māireire

Leionema nudum is a native shrub with many branches and grows to a height of 3 m. The branchlets are slender with a reddish bark that is covered in stellate hairs (a hair that is split into several strands at the free end). The leaves are fragrant, alternate and are dotted with glands. In October it has white flowers which have 5 petals with eight to ten stamens.
Confined to the North Island where it is locally distributed from Te Paki south to Pukenui Hill, Kawhia in the west and the northern Kaimai Range in the east. Rather uncommon south of Auckland and Thames.

Leionema nudum leaves and terminal branchlets have a pleasant aromatic odour due to containing a clear greenish yellow essential oil. This oil contains citral, citronellal, cinnamic acid, camphene, limonene, and isoborneol.
The Māori used the crushed leaves as a perfume.

Photographed at Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton's Bush Reserve.
 

The upper surface of a leaf with oil glands visable.
 

The underside of a leaf with knotched margins.