Meryta: Rolled up
sinclairii: After Sinclair (c. 1796–1861). Colonial Secretary and naturalist.
Current Threat Status
2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
Previous Threat Status
2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted
2012 - CD, IE
Meryta sinclairii (Hook.f.) Seem
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.
Vascular - Native
Botryodendrum sinclairii Hook.f.
Endemic. Three Kings Islands. It is probably planted on the Chickens near Whangarei
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.
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.
August - April
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
Throughout the Year
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.
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.
2n = 48
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