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

Melicytus ramiflorus (Mahoe)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Violaceae
Genus: Melicytus
Species: M. ramiflorus
Binomial name: Melicytus ramiflorus
Common name: Mahoe, Whitey wood.

Melicytus ramiflorus is a small tree of the family Violaceae endemic to New Zealand. It grows up to 10 metres high with a trunk up to 60 cm in diameter, it has smooth, whitish bark and brittle twigs.
The dark-green "alternate" leaves are 5-15 cm long and 3-5 cm wide and their edges are finely serrated (although this feature is less pronounced in younger plants).
The plants are dioecious and the small flowers are yellowish in colouration, between 3 and 4 mm in diameter and occur in fascicles, growing straight out from naked twigs- these flowers have a strong, pleasant fragrance. The berries are a striking violet colour when ripe and are more or less spherical with a diameter of between 3 and 4 mm. Flowering occurs in late spring and on into summer while the berries appear later on in summer and also in autumn. The berries of this small tree are eaten by a number of native birds, including Kereru, Tui and geckos of the genus Naultinus. The  Melicytus ramiflorus is insect pollinated with midges, gnats, hoverflies, butterflies, bees and ants. Mahoe is ubiquitous throughout lower altitude New Zealand forests and is frequently seen in areas of regenerating forest.
Melicytus ramiflorus was one of the woods Maori would utilise to create fire. The Maori made his fire by friction and used Te hika ahi (the fire plough) to get his fire. Two pieces of wood which had been thoroughly dried were used. One the kauahi or lower stick, a piece of Mahoe was generally 14 to 18 inches long, 2 or 3 inches wide, and 1 to 2 inches thick. This was very soft wood, and the stick could be used on both sides. The other piece of wood used was Te hika. The rubbing stick made from Kaikomako (Pennantia corymbosa) a very hard compact and durable wood.

Thanks to the website http://www.bushmansfriend.co.nz for the information in the above paragraph. 

Photo of a mature tree at Oromahoe School, Northland

The multiple trunks of the above tree.


Flowers photographed December

Melicytus ramiflorus shows ramiflory or the production of flowers directly from the branches. November

The developing berries still green. December.

The blue berries of the Mahoe tree. Photographed mid-February 

Serrated leaves of 
Melicytus ramiflorus

Topside of a leaf

The underside of leaf

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/