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Pennantia: after Pennant, a zoologist
Three Kings Kaikomako
Current Threat Status
2012 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
Previous Threat Status
2009 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
2012 - CD, IE, OL
2009 - CD, OL, IE
Pennantia baylisiana (W.R.B.Oliv.) G.T.S.Baylis
CD, OL, IE
Rare multi-trunked small tree bearing very large broad glossy curled leaves inhabiting the three Kings Islands. Leaves 120-160mm long, widest towards tip. Flowers small, green, in clusters along branches. Fruit purple, 10mm long, containing a single seed.
Vascular - Native
Plectomirtha baylisiana W.R.B.Oliv.
Endemic to Great (Manawa Tawhi) Island, Three Kings Island group.
Sturdy, multi-trunked tree 5-8 x 4 m tall. Bark greyish, tessellated. Young branches and branchlets lenticellate. Petiole 25 mm long. Leaves subcoriaceous, glabrescent, 120-160 x 70 -100 mm, oblong to obovate, in exposed conditions distinctly recurved, otherwise flat, margins entire, apex obtuse, rounded, or slightly emarginate; base cuneate to obtuse; lateral veins of underside subtended by axillary hairy, pocket-domatium. Inflorescence usually ramiflorous or cauliflorous, rarely terminal, 80-120 x 40-120 mm. Male flowers unknown. Female flowers 1.5 x 1.5 mm, petals 2.6 mm, greenish white, stamen filaments in bud kinked sideways, straightening at anthesis, 1.5 mm long; anther 1-1.4 mm, pollen usually malformed and sterile. Ovary barrel shaped, 2.8 x 2 mm; stigmatic ring 1.5-1.8 mm diam., crested into 3 triangular plates. Fruit ellipsoidal, 10 x 4.5 mm, flesh purple; stone 9 x 3.5 mm.
Morphologically similar to the Norfolk Island Pennantia endlicheri Reissek from which it differs by multi-trunked growth habit, the recurved leaves of exposed branchlets, and mainly ramiflorous or cauliflorous flowering habit. DNA sequences further separate both species. Kaikomako (Pennantia corymbosa J.R. Forest et G.Forst.) differs from both these species by its divaricating juvenile form, much smaller and distinctly toothed or lobed adult foliage.
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
Fruiting occurs between January and April in cultivated material. Ripe fruit has been seen in the wild during February and March
Easily grown from seed, when viable non hybrid seed is available. Though the only known tree is functionally female, occasional viable fruit is now known to be produced both in the wild and in cultivation. However, if pure seed is desired, plants should grown well away from kaikomako (P. corymbosa) otherwise hybrid seed will be produced. This tree can also be grown from cuttings and basal portions of new stem stuckers. Neither media is easy to strike, and so until recently, this species was rarely seen in cultivation.
Only one tree occurs in the wild. Initially P. baylisiana and indeed all other Three Kings endemic plants were at serious risk from goats. These were successfully eradicated in 1946. Since then the tree has persisted despite periodic storm and drought damage which may kill entire trunks. However, being female the tree was until recently considered functionally extinct. Apparently viable fruits were first found in the wild in 1989, and these, along with fruiting cutting grown plants in New Zealand provide one source of securing the species. However, until such time as more trees occur in the wild, P. baylisiana remains seriously at risk of extinction through natural events such as storms or senescence through old age.
2n = 50
References and further reading
de Lange, P.J.; Heenan, P.B.; Norton, D.A.; Rolfe, J.R.; Sawyer, J.W.D. 2010: Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch.
Gardner, R.O.; de Lange, P.J. 2002: Revision of Pennantia (Icacinaceae), a small isolated genus of Southern Hemisphere trees. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 32: 669-695.
This page last updated on 19 Dec 2014