Species

Meryta sinclairii

Etymology

Meryta: Rolled up
sinclairii: After Sinclair (c. 1796–1861). Colonial Secretary and naturalist.

Common Name(s)

Pukanui, Puka

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted

Qualifiers

2012 - CD, IE

Authority

Meryta sinclairii (Hook.f.) Seem

Family

Araliaceae

Brief Description

Small tree bearing very large glossy wavy leaves inhabiting the three Kings Islands (but common in cultivation and introduced to the Hen and Chickens Islands). Twigs fleshy. Leaves up to 50cm long, on stalks to 35cm long, tough. Fruit in clusters at tip of branches under the leaves, purple.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code

MERSIN

The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs

Synonyms

Botryodendrum sinclairii Hook.f.

Distribution

Endemic. Three Kings Islands. It is probably planted on the Chickens near Whangarei

Habitat

Coastal forest, grassland and scrub. With the exception of the taller kanuka (Kunzea aff. ericoides (f)) dominated forest of Great island, Meryta is the dominant tree species on the Three Kings Islands.

Features

Tree up to c.8 m tall, with trunk up to c.50 diameter; branches brittle. Leaves crowded at apices of branchlets, simple, on petioles up to c.350 mm long; lamina about oblong, semicordate at base, coriaceous, glossy, up to c.500 ~ 200 mm; margins very shallowly broadly lobulate, slightly undulate. Panicles terminal, erect, up to 50 mm long, about oblong in outline, branches jointed in bracted clusters; calyx obsolete, petals 4-5, greenish; stamens 4, bracted, crowded; calyx obsolete, staminodes present, style-branches 4-5. Fruit 10 mm or more long, succulent, black, 4-5-loculed; seeds solitary in each locule.

Similar Taxa

None

Flowering

August - April

Flower Colours

Green

Fruiting

Throughout the Year

Propagation Technique

An extremely attractive and popular tree widely cultivated in northern New Zealand. Easily grown from fresh seed which often germinates beneath the parent tree. However, prone to phytophora and verticillium wilt for which there is no available treatment. Best grown in a coastal situation, in free draining soil.

Threats

A Naturally Uncommon, range-restricted endemic. It is abundant in the wild on all the main islands and a few of the larger islets of the Three Kings group. However, this situation could easily change if soil borne fungal pathogens current absent from the islands are introduced - this is a constant threat because marijuana growers are increasingly using remote offshore islands to grow their crops, and their crops carry these diseases. Further, should rodents invade the islands then the Meryta along with many other plants and animals unique to the islands will be under certain risk. The future of these islands is ensured only by regular visits checking for rodents and weeds, undertaken by the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Chromosome No.

2n = 48

Endemic Taxon

Yes

Endemic Genus

No

Endemic Family

No

 

      

Attribution

Description from Allan (1961)

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington.

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014