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


Litsea calicaris (Mangeao)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Magnolias
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Litsea
Species: L. calicaris
Binomial name: Litsea calicaris
Synonyms: Tetranthera calicaris, Laurus calicaris, Tetranthera tangao
Common name: Mangeao, Tangeao

Litsea calicaris is the only New Zealand representative of the genus Litsea which consists of 200–400 species of evergreen or deciduous trees or shrubs in tropical and subtropical Asia, Australia, North America and South America. It endemic to the Three Kings Islands and the top half of the North Island of New Zealand. It is commonest in the southern part of its range which is from about Mokau in the west to Mahia Peninsula in the east.
Litsea calicaris is a much branched stout tree with a spreading crown and it can grow up to 18m in height. It usually has a single trunk (80cm diameter) with smooth dark grayish brown bark that often hash lichens often growing on it.
It has 5–15 centimetres long oval opposite leaves that are leathery with wavy margins. During September – November it produces small yellow dioecious sweet scented yellowish flowers in umbels of 4 to 5. 
The fruit is a red/purple oblong-ovoid drupe (15-20 mm) seated on a disc. These juicy fruit loved by Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae).
Litsea calicaris suffers badly from browsing by possums.

Litsea calicaris produces a high quality timber with excellent strength and flexibility. The wood is white, firm, and strong, combining toughness with elasticity and light weight. In the 19th century it was used for many purposes including the making of barrels and wheels, and for boat frames, railway carriages and sporting goods, agricultural implements, bullock-yokes, oars, ships' blocks. It also produces a high quality sliced veneer. Current uses are in the making of violins and for the ribs of kayaks. It was also used for the 9th floor of the Beehive building (the executive wing of the Parliament of New Zealand). 

The Māori are said to have used it for its medicinal properties in midwifery. They used it to create a vapour bath (with kōhutuku and tātarāmoa) to promote lochial discharge (Bennett 1883; Goldie 1905).

For more details on this tree visit:   http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.asp?ID=940

A Litsea calicaris growing in the grounds of Penrose High School, Auckland, New Zealand



A small tree growing at Otari Wilton Bush Botanical Reserve

The leaves of the mangeao have prominent veins.
 

The underside of a leaf that is a bluish-green colour.
..