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Now, in these times more than ever, the benefits of tree-gazing are worth revisiting. Even pictures of trees will assist your immune system, lower your blood pressure, increase your ability to focus, improve your sleep, and increase your energy levels. Let’s leave it there and actually look at some trees then. Allow us to introduce you to Mahoe, a member of the family Violaceae, which includes violets and pansies. This plant family is made up of sixteen genera and encompasses around 900 species, most of which are broadly spread across both Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Mahoe (Melicytus ramiflorus)

The most common Mahoe is usually a smaller tree, and frequently hardly more than a decent-sized shrub, but in good conditions it grows steadily to three metres within ten years and can attain a height of up to 10 m. A hardy, dioecious tree, its trunk is often divided close to the ground and sometimes into multiple trunks which are protected by gnarled white bark. A crowded round head composed of diminutive short branchlets sporting small white lenticels tops this coastal species. The shiny, toothed lanceolate bright green leaves measure 5-15cm long and are well fleshed. Tiny pale limey-white flowers bloom in profusion from November to February and can be very fragrant. 

Small violet to blue-black ovoid fruits ripen in abundance in November through March, and a second crop often fruits into May. Kereru flock for it as do other frugivorous birds. Each fruit carries between three and six black seeds. 

Mahoe is broadly distributed throughout North, South and Stewart Islands, and offshore on the Kermadecs, Three Kings and some Pacific Islands. It is a lowland forest and bush perimeter species up to 850 m. Greedy for light, it favours well-drained moist, fertile grounds such as glacial moraine, river banks, and beds, and coastal deposits. It sustains quite strong wind, and established trees tend to recover quickly when damaged by drought. Young Mahoe is frost sensitive but moderately tolerant of frost otherwise.

 $110 each

Coastal Mahoe 
(Melicytus novae-zelandiae)

This Mahoe species was formerly recorded as Hymenanthera novae-zelandiae  and is generally distributed from the Three Kings and coastal islands from the Bay of Plenty, north. Another population exists on Kapiti Island and on islands of Cook Strait where it tends to grow as a tree up to five metres.

Melicytus novae-zelandiae is a hardy dioecious coastal shrub which grows to about four metres and is salt spray and wind resistant making it an excellent coastal shelter and hedging choice. The foliage consists of attractive rigid mid-green waxy leaves with widely serrated margins. Small greenish-yellow flowers bloom in thick clusters around the stem or in leaf axils. Fruit ripens in summer from green to bright purple to white.

This species responds well to being clipped.

Normally $100 each

The Greek description, melicytus is made up of the word meli for honey and kytos, which translates to hollow container and describes the flower nectaries. Literally it means honey cave, and when the common Mahoe’s other name, ramiflorus is defined, we get branch-flowering. Look at the images. It’s a very apt description. Coastal Mahoe has the same description applied, but defines the plant as a New Zealand species.

  • Maori used mahoe with kaikomako to start their fires via friction
  • Mahoe wood is slow-burning and Maori carried smouldering sticks in stone containers with them as they moved around the country. At the new place they would shake the sticks vigorously to develop an ember from which they could light a new fire
  • Maori used Mahoe bark which had been pulped on burns
  • The liquid in which leaves had been boiled was used to relieve rheumatism
  • Boiled leaves were applied to relieve scabies 
  • Mahoe wood is soft, frangible and rots quickly so it was of little use except for occasional inlays
  • Its main use appears to have been in the making of charcoal for specific gunpowder types
  • Cattle and horses love Mahoe and pioneers valued it as good animal feed in a drought
  • Wild deer and goat also like Mahoe and insistent browsing, especially of seedlings can strip locales of this plant
  • Mahoe is an important component of early forest reversion, pioneering and holding slips and other unstable surfaces  
  • The white-grey bark, glossy bright green leaves and copious violet to black fruit makes Mahoe a worthy specimen plant, or a lovely smaller shade tree in large gardens.
  • Because this species is dioecious it is best to propagate from cuttings to ensure the fruit which brings birds into the location
  • Seed germinates easily, although it is recommended to stratify it for six weeks prior to sowing

Coastal Mahoe

  • Collect seed in February and March for good germination after stratifying for two to four weeks
For price and availability list
* All prices are exclusive of GST

102 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana

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