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.