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


Melicope ternata (Wharangi)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Eudicots
Subclass: Rosidae
(Unranked): Eurosids 
Order: Sapindales
Family: Rutaceae
Subfamily: Toddalioideae
Genus: Melicope
Species: Melicope ternata
Common name: Wharangi.

 
This plants may not be safe for humans – the nectar of Melicope ternata is known to yield toxic honey that may kill whoever eats it.

A New Zealand round coastal shrub was once known for its edible gum. Melicope ternata yields an edible gum that was used for chewing as it sweetens the breath for halitosis sufferers.
It is grows in the coastal forests of New Zealand. It has aromatic lime green glossy trifoliate leaves. Two species of Melicope are the only members of the citrus family to be present in New Zealand. As with other members of this family, both Wharangi (Melicope ternata) and Poataniwha (Melicope simplex) emit a pleasant scent (from oil glands) when the leaves are crushed.
Small yellowish green scented flowers develop in early spring followed by brown capsules each with 4 small pods containing one black shiny seed from late spring to late summer. These are eaten by birds.
This shrub is slightly frost tender and grows to about 5m in height.



Bright green young leaves with the darker mature leaves below.
  

Mature leaves.


The underside of a leaf with covered with oil glands. Click to enlarge.


The tiny flowers of Melicope ternata (Photo August)


Green seed cases december.


Last years seeds (Photo August)