Title: Early New Zealand Botanical Art

Author: F. Bruce Sampson

Publication details: Reed Methuen, 1985, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: F. Bruce Sampson

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Early New Zealand Botanical Art


Plate 1 Entelea arborescens (whau)

Sydney Parkinson made this painting from a specimen collected at Anaura Bay. It was completed by F. P. Nodder in 1779. Whau has the lightest wood of all New Zealand trees and the Maoris utilised it for floats for their fishing nets. It occurs in the North Island and on Three Kings Islands, and in the north of the South Island (Nelson and Marlborough regions). The whau is a remarkably fast-growing plant, which is, however, easily damaged by heavy frosts. The soft, papery leaves are very large (up to twenty-five centimetres in length and breadth) and, among our native trees and shrubs, probably only the puka (Meryta sinclairii) has larger leaves.

Whau, or corkwood as it is sometimes called, is the only New Zealand member of the family Tiliaceae, which includes the European linden trees. The genus Entelea consists of only one New Zealand species. The white flowers have a rather crumpled appearance. The spiky fruits that develop from them open while still on the trees and release a large number of small, greyish seeds. It has been observed that the average life of an individual tree is only about ten years and that a single tree can produce a million seeds a year!

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History)

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Plate 1 Entelea arborescens R. Br. (whau) Sydney Parkinson

Plate 1 Entelea arborescens R. Br. (whau) Sydney Parkinson