Melicope simplex (Poataniwha)
Species: M. simplex
Binomial name: Melicope simplex
Synonyms: Melicope parvula, Astorganthus huegelii
Common name: Poataniwha, Tātaka
Melicope simplex is a shrub (>5+) native to New Zealand. It is found through out New Zealand in the margins of coastal and lowland forests to 600 metres AMSL. This small tree or low twiggy shrub had slender, tangled branches and smooth brown trunk up to 10cm in circumference.
Juvenile leaves have three leaflets (5-10mm x 3-10mm), adult leaves are small, thick, leathery and nearly circular (1-2 cm long) with margins that have shallow rounded teeth. The somewhat flattened leaf-stalk has a "joint" across it. The underside of the leaves have visible oil glands. The leaves when crushed have an aromatic citrus smell.
M. simplex develops greenish white flowerheads in spring which are male or bisexual (5mm long). In summer to autumn it develops dry wrinkled capsules with four lobes. Each lobe produces 1 shiny black seeds.
Melicope simplex hybridises with Melicope ternata. This natural hybrid use to be called Melicope mantelli by is now correctly called Melicope simplex x ternata. See page. http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/table-1/melicope-simplex-x-ternata-hybrid.html