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Manual of the New Zealand Flora.

1. Vitex, Linn

1. Vitex, Linn.

Trees or shrubs. Leaves opposite, digitately 3–5-foliolate, very rarely simple. Flowers in axillary or terminal cymes or panicles.

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Calyx 5-toothed or -lobed. Corolla-tube short; limb oblique, 2-lipped; lobes 5, the lowest one usually larger than the rest. Stamens 4, didynamous, usually exserted; anther-cells distinct. Ovary 2–4-celled; ovules solitary or 2 in each cell; style filiform, shortly 2-lobed. Drupe globose or obovoid, more or less succulent; endocarp bony, usually 4-celled. Seeds obovate or oblong, albumen wanting.

A large genus of about 70 species, scattered through most tropical and subtropical regions, rare or absent in temperate climates. The New Zealand species is endemic.

1.V. lucens, T. Kirk in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xxix. (1897) 525.—A large handsome tree 40–60 ft. high, with a massive trunk 2–5 ft. diam., and a large crown of spreading branches; branchlets tetra-gonous, glabrous. Leaves on long stout petioles 3–5 in. long; leaflets 3–5, shortly petioled, 2–5 in. long, elliptic-oblong or obovate, abruptly acute or almost acuminate, entire, quite glabrous, dark-green and glossy. Flowers abundantly produced, dull-red, about 1 in. long, arranged in 4–15-flowered dichotomously branched axillary panicles. Calyx short, cup-shaped, truncate or obscurely 5-toothed. Corolla pubescent, 2-lipped; upper lip arched, entire or bifid; lower lip deflexed, 3-lobed. Drupe subglobose, bright-red, ⅔–¾ in. diam.; endocarp bony, 4-celled; seeds seldom more than 1 or 2.—V. littoralis, A. Cunn. Precur. n. 390 (not of Decaisne); Raoul, Choix, 43; Hook. Ic. Plant. t. 419, 420; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 203; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 223; Kirk, Forest Fl. t. 105.

North Island: Abundant from the North Cape to the Waikato and Upper Thames, then sparingly southwards to Mahia Peninsula and Cape Egmont. Sea-level to 2500 ft. Puriri; Kauere. June–October.

A well-known tree, producing the most valuable hardwood in the colony, extensively used for all purposes requiring great strength and durability, as railway-sleepers, the framework of bridges, piles, house-blocks, &c. Also greatly employed for furniture and cabinetwork, and quite equal in figure and general appearance to the best Italian or American walnut.