§III.—Œconomic - W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso
23. In considering the Œconomic Botany of this Island, the past should not be wholly omitted. It cannot, at least, be uninteresting to know something of those plants which, for a long period, were of the utmost importance to the race which preceded the Colonists on these shores; and to which a large population was mainly indebted for food, for clothing, and for numerous articles of utility and of ornament. Such an enquiry, however brief, is become the more necessary from the fact, that, owing to the great and growing disuse of many of those plants, which were formerly prized and sought after, the knowledge of their qualities and uses is rapidly becoming forgotten. It is therefore proposed to shew, with reference to the past,—(i.) the plants used as food; and (ii.) those of utility and ornament, to the New-Zealander of former days.
(i.) The vegetable articles of food not introduced by Europeans used by the Natives of this Island were tolerably numerous, however inferior the qualities of many of them might be. Most, however, were only obtained through much labour; which, no doubt, contributed not a little towards the robust health of the consumers. Those foodyielding plants may be thus placed:—(1.) Main articles of food; and (2.) smaller fruits and vegetables commonly used, including those only resorted to in times of great scarcity.
(1.) The main, or staple, articles of vegetable food, were but few in kind. They comprised, those cultivated, and those which were wild. The cultivated vegetables were only three in number; and which (curiously enough, and like the garden produce of many other countries), were not indigenous. These were—two roots, and one gourd-like fruit; the Kumara, or sweet potato, (Convolvulus Batatas), the Taro (Caladium esculentum), and the Hue, a large kind of gourd, a
species of Cucurbita. Of the first, the Kumara, they had a large number of varieties, widely differing from each other in quality, appearance, and colour; which, of itself, is a highly puzzling problem, seeing the plant in this country never flowers. Of this root, most valuable to them, they must have raised immense quantities annually. An operation requiring unceasing care and toil on their part, as they generally fresh gravelled their plantations every year; and which, combined with the great care required for the raising, keeping, and preservation of this root, could only have been effectually done through the beneficial influence of the taboo (tapu). Of the second, the Taro, they had also several distinct varieties (exclusive of the inferior kind called by them, Taro-hoia, which, with many other roots, was introduced by Europeans); they also ate the thick succulent stems of this plant, as well as its root, and sometimes its leaves. A large flourishing Taro plantation is one of the most beautiful cultivations the writer has ever seen. These were planted in regular quincunx,—the soil evenly laid, and strewed with white sand, and patted with their hands, giving such a relief to the elegant large shield-like dark-green versatile leaves of the Taro, drooping gracefully from their thick clean redbrown stalks,—and were scrupulously kept in perfect order. This plant very rarely flowers, and it has never been known to produce seed. The third, the Hue, which is only propagated by its seeds, is very constant to its kind, although it varies much in size and shape, and has no varieties. The staple uncultivated articles of vegetable food were three fruits,—the well-known Fern-root, and the wild Sowthistle. Those three fruits are peculiar to the country, and comprised the Hinau (Elæocarpus dentatus), the Karaka (Corynocarpus lævigata), which was often planted about their villages; and the Tawa (Nesodaphne Tawa). Those berries (drupæ) were not however, such as are generally known to civilized nations by the name of edible fruits; being scarcely so (especially those parts of them which were mainly used), save through long and necessitous habit. Although those fruits were yielded spontaneously and in abundance where the trees producing them grew, yet the gathering, preparing, and storing them, so as to be kept fit for food, was no light labour. The kernels of the Karaka, after due preparation, would remain sound some time in a dry store, but not near so long as those of the Tawa. Much labour, too, was required to procure and fit the Aruhe, or root of the common Fern of New Zealand (Pteris esculenta) for food; while the spots producing fern-root of best quality were by no means common. The Puwha,
or Milk-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), the large-leaved variety, was common, though not (it is reasonably suspected) too plentiful; and this was abandoned for the smaller leaved European kind (after its introduction) as being less bitter and more palatable.
(2.) The smaller fruits and vegetables invariably used while in season comprised, (a.) those which were largely and commonly used:— vis., the fruit of the Tutu, or Tupakihi (Coriaria ruscifolia), the pleasant juice of which in the early summer was drank with avidity in large quantities. The berry of the Kohutuhutu, or Kotukutuku (Fuchsia excorticata); the Kohoho, or Poroporo, (Solanum aviculare), which, too, was sometimes planted; the fruits of the five following timber trees,—the Miro (Podocarpus ferruginea), the Mataii (P. spicata), the Totara (P. Totara), the Kahikatea (P. dacrydioides),—the fruit of which was called Koroi,—and the Rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum); and also the fruit(Ureure) and sugary bract-like spadices (Tawhara) of the climbing plant Kiekie (Freycinetia Banksii,). The watery honey from the perianths of the Korari (Phormium tenax, and Ph. Colensoi), was also eaten and collected in large quantities; and so was a similar substance from the flowers of the Pohutukawa (Metrosideros tomentosa.) (b.) those which were less often used:—the curious red fruit (arillus) of the Titoki, or Titongi, (Alectryon excelsum); the fruit of the Tutu-papa (Coriaria thymifolia); of the New Zealand Bramble, Tataramoa, (Rubus australis); of two of the New Zealand Myrtles, the Ramarama (Myrtus bullata), and the Rohutu (M. pedunculata); of several species of Coprosma,—particularly of the Karamu (C. lucida, and C. robusta), of the Papaauma (C. grandifolia), and of the two littoral species, Taupata (C. retusa), and Tataraheke (C. acerosa); of the Koropuku (Gaultheria depressa); of the Poroporo (Solanum nigrum; of the Kawakawa (Piper excelsum); and of the Kareao, or Pirita, (Rhipogonum parviflorum). The pollen also of the flowers of the large Bulrush (Typha angustifolia), was extensively collected in its season by the Southern tribes, and made into large gingerbread like cakes, called Pungapunga. Besides which the following roots and plants were often eaten, vis., the roots (cooked) of the Panahi (Calystegia sepium); of the Maikaika (Arthropodium cirrhatum); the tubers of several small Orchideous genera, such as several specimens of Thelymitra, of Microtus porrifolia, of Orthoceras strictum, and of Gastrodia Cunninghamii, containing “salep;” the roots of the little sugary Ti-koraha (Cordyline stricta), of the large Ti, or “Cabbage Tree” (C. australis), and of the large Fern, Para, (Marattia salicina). Also, the cooked leaves and herbaceous tops of
the Toi (Barbarea Australis), and of the Poroporo, or Raupeti (Solanum nigrum); and the baked inner stems and sago-like pith of the large black fern tree, Korau, or Mamaku, (Cyathea medullaris). The young succulent unexpanded shoots of several ferns, such as those of Pteris esculenta, Asplenium lucidum, and A. bulbiferum, and Botrychium Virginicum; several Fungi, chief among which were the four following, which grow on trees,—the Harori (Agaricus adiposus), the Hakeke, and the Popoiahakeke (Polyporus species), and the Pekepekekiore (Hydnum clathroides); also, three terrestrial ones,—the Paruwhatitiri (Ileodictyon cibarium), the Pukurau (Lycoperdon Fontainesii), and the curious species Aseroe rubra. The young inner blanched leaves and heart of the Ti, or “Cabbage-tree” (Cordyline australis), and of the Nikau, or New Zealand Palm, (Areca sapida,), were eaten both raw and cooked. A few also of the sea-weeds were eaten; such as, the Karengo, (a tidal species of Laminaria found plentifully from the East Cape to Cape Turnagain), the Rehia, the Rimurapa (D’Urvillea utilis), and some others, including Porphyra vulgaris; some of which were also used exclusively to thicken the sweet juice of the Tupakihi, or Tutu, (Coriaria ruscifolia). While the small berries of the Makomako (Aristotelia racemosa), of the heath-like Totara (Leucopogon Fraseri), and of two species of Muhlenbeckia, M. adpressa, and M. complexa, of the Ngaio (Myoporum lætum), of two species of Pimelea, (P. prostrata, and P. arenaria), and the large plum-like fruit of the Taraire (Nesodaphne Taraire), fine-looking but not very gustable, were eagerly sought after in their season by children; who also, with adults, thought highly of a sugary manna-like exudation (of doubtful vegetable origin) called Pia-Manuka, and found in the summer occasionally on the branches of the Leptospermum scoparium. The aromatic root and stem of the Papaii (Aciphylla squarrosa), and the insipid watery Koreirei, or roots of Typha angustifolia, were also eaten raw; while in times of great scarcity the roots of the Matuakumara (Geranium dissectum), and of the Ririwaka (Scirpus maritimus) were also eaten.
(ii.) The plants of utility and ornament were very numerous—from the giant pine to the tiny moss. These may be conveniently classed thus:—(1.) Clothing, or fibre-yielding plants; (2.) Timber trees, and other plants, whence they obtained their canoes, war and husbandry implements, and vessels; and (3.) Plants and vegetable substances used as ornament. (1.) Of the clothing, or fibre-yielding plants, one only
was generally cultivated, and that, too, was not indigenous; viz., the Aute, or Paper-Mulberry tree (Broussonetia papyrifera); this shrub, or small tree, was assiduously planted, but only for the purpose of obtaining white fillets for the hair of the Chiefs. It has long been nearly, if not quite, extinct. The Harakeke, or New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax, and Ph. Colensoi), of which there are many varieties, was sometimes planted, but not largely so; more to have it handy, or to secure a prized variety, than with a view to cultivation or to improve its fibre. The leaves of these valuable plants were universally used, both scraped and unscraped, and the fibre prepared in various ways,—by scraping, soaking, beating, dyeing, and twisting,—for clothing for both sexes. From it the Chiefs’ elegant and ornamented silky Paipairoa, and the shaggy bee-butt looking Pake and Ngeri,—with their many intermediate kinds of clothing mats,—were alone manufactured. Common articles of clothing and war-mats of defence were also woven from the leaves of the Kiekie (Freycinetia Banksii), and from those of the Ti (Cordyline australis); while from the fibres of the handsome large-leaved mountain Ti, (Cordyline indivisa), very strong and heavy mats for apparel, called Toi, were made; which, dyed black, are still greatly prized. A few superior articles of apparel were also made, by the Northern tribes, from the leaves of the Neinei (Dracophyllum latifolium). Of the bright yellow leaves of the Pingao (Desmoschœnus spiralis), strong and useful folding girdles were woven; and from the inner bark of the Aute-taranga (Pimelea arenaria), small white cloth-like strips were also obtained, for fastening up the hair, or wearing as ornament in the ears. (2.) The timber trees and other plants of various degrees of utility, comprised the following:—For canoes, the Natives from the Thames northwards generally used the Kauri (Dammara australis), and the Southern Natives the Totara (Podocarpus Totara), which was preferred by all; the Kahikatea (P. dacrydioides), was also often used for this purpose. Troughs, trays, and other large vessels were also made of Totara and of Mataii (P. spicata.) The framing of the principal houses was of Totara timber; while their roofs, and sometimes their sides, were often covered with its bark, obtained from the living tree and laid on in large slabs. The bark of the Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) was also used for covering the roof, but is greatly inferior. The carved work of the Chiefs’ houses was made out of both Totara and Mataii; but for the carved figure-heads of their canoes the Pukatea (Atherosperma Novœ-Zelandiœ) was generally used; while the ornamental carved work of the sterns was made of
Mataii, or Totara. The Titoki (Alectryon excelsum) furnished handles for light axes and sometimes the Kowhai (Edwardsia grandiflora) was used, particularly for the heavier ones. The Ake (Dodonœa viscosa), and the Maire,243 (Santalum Cunninghamii at the North, and Olea sp. at the South,) supplied hardwood for war implements, and for carved walking-staves; and of another hard wood, Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), husbandry implements, canoe paddles, and spears for war and taking fish were made. Long war-spears were also made of Rimu (Dacrydinum cupressinum); but the very long bird-spears (30–36 feet) were made of Tawa (Nesodaphne Tawa): the working of which out of a large tree with only their stone implements, obtaining, as they did, but two spears from a single tree, was indeed a most patient and admirable performance, often taking two years for its completion! The hard-wooded Maire-tawhake, (Eugenia Maire,) was also prized, and used by the Northern tribes (among whom alone it grew) for husbandry implements. The channelled stems of the Neinei (Dracophyllum latifolium), and the red young saplings of Toatoa, or Tanekaha (Phyllocladus trichomanoides), made valued walking-sticks. The long straight young trees of Manuka, and of Tawa, were used for battens for the sides and roofs of their houses; stems of the Kareao (Rhipogonum parviflorum) and also Kakaho reeds (Arundo conspicua), and slips of Totara timber, were often used for the same purpose. The creepers, Aka, (Metrosideros scandens,) and Kareao or Pirita, (Rhipogonum parviflorum,) were extensively used for tying up fences, platforms, and the heavy frame-work of houses. Sometimes other creepers (Passiflorá tetrandra, and Parsonsia, sp.), were used, but not commonly; and, among the Northern tribes, the creeping fern Mangemange, (Lygodium articulatum,) was generally used to bind the outward thatch securely on the roof of their houses. The Raupo, or large Bulrush (Typha angustifolia) was universally used to cover the frame-work of their house; the outer thatch being Toetoe, (Cyperus ustulatus), or Rautahi (Carex ternaria,) or Ririwaka (Scirpus maritimus), or of two kinds of Wiwi, or Rushes (Juncus maritimus, and effusus); sometimes, however, a hard-jointed rush, (Leptocarpus simplex,) was advantageously used being by far the best of all the Rushes or Sedges for thatching, on account of its durability. The leaves of the Ti, or “Cabbage tree,” (Cordyline australis,) were also used for this purpose; but, for the inner work of roofs, sides, partitions, &c., the large fronds of the Nikau, or
New Zealand Palm, (Areca sapida,) and the handsome Reed, Kakaho, (Arundo conspicua,) were extensively used. The interior of the verandahs and sides of their Chiefs’ houses was often neatly ornamented with chequered work of various regular patterns and designs, caused by interlacing narrow strips of the leaves of the bright orange-colored Pingae (Desmoschœnus spiralis,) with the greyish-green Kiekie (Freycinetia Banksii), and the olive-colored Harakeke (Phormium tenax,) which, worked regularly, had a very pleasing effect. Sometimes, especially in the interior, the outside of their better houses was formed of hard fibrous slabs cut from the stout red-brown fern-tree, Wekiponga (Dicksonia australis); and, in other parts of the Island, smaller pieces cut from the trunk of the black fern tree, Korau, or Mamaku, (Cyathea medullaris) were closely placed like a plinth around the lower part of the house, especially if it were a sweet potatoe store, to keep out the rats. Their large and small fish-traps, or creels, were very strongly and skillfully made of the flexible stems of two species of Muhlenbeckia, (adpressa and ephedroides,) and also of the long fibrous roots of the New Zealand flax (Phormium); the stems of the twining fern (Lygodium articulatum,) were also extensively used for this purpose by the Northern tribes. Their fishing nets, of all sizes of mesh, (some of which nets were very long, and most skilfully made, the admiration of Cook and of all early voyagers), were made of the split but unscraped leaves of the New Zealand flax (Phormium); for floats, the light wood of the small tree Whau, or Hauama, (Entelea arborescens,) was used, and sometimes the leaves of the Raupo, or large Bulrush, rolled up; and for net-ropes the tough stringy bark of the Houhere, and also of the Whauwhi or Houi, (Hoheria populnea, and of its varieties,) was plaited together; leaves of Phormium were also used for this purpose. Excellent fishing-lines, of various lengths and sizes, were capitally spun by the hand from the dressed fibre of the New Zealand flax; and for hooks, the tough naturally curved stems of the climbing fern (Lygodium articulatum,) and the roots of the shrub Tauhinu (Pomaderris ericifolia,) hardened by fire, were sometimes used; human bone, however, being always preferred. Canoe sails were manufactured from the leaves of the Raupo, laced across with the fibres of New Zealand flax; while the Hune, or downy pappus of the seeds of the Raupo, was used for caulking and plugging holes in their canoes. Useful floor and sleeping mats of all sizes, and of several patterns and kinds, were woven of leaves of New Zealand flax (Phormium), of Kiekie (Freycinetia Banksii,) and sometimes
of Toetoe (Arundo conspicua). Baskets, large and small, plain, and highly ornamented, and dyed, for all manner of uses, were woven of the same materials; and sometimes the leaves of the Ti (Cordyline australis,) and of the Nikau Palm (Areca sapida,) were also used for the same purposes. Their sitting and sleeping places were strewed with the leaves of the Toetoe, or of Raupo; with the soft fragrant grass Karetu (Hierochloe redolens,) when in season, and sometimes with the leaves of the Papaauma, (Coprosma grandifolia); for visitors of rank, however, the fronds of the different tree ferns were used, particularly of the Ponga (Cyathea dealbata). The New Zealanders were often curiously particular as to what plants were used tied around, or under and over, their vegetable food in their cooking ovens in the earth; for instance, the roots of the Tikoraha (Cordyline stricta), were tied separately for baking in bundles of Hangehange (Geniostoma ligustrifolium); for their Kao, or prepared sweet potatoes, they used the leaves of the Parataniwha (Elatostemma rugosum); generally, however, they used the fronds of the larger ferns, Lomaria procera, and Goniopteris pennigera. Fire, by friction, was obtained from several woods; the Kaikomako (Pennantia corymbosa) was, however, the one most prized, and also the Pate (Schefflera digitata); and a trunk stem of the Kohia (Passiflora tetrandra) was often sought to carry fire on a journey, as it had the quality of a slow-burning match. The green leaves and branches of the Kawakawa (Piper excelsum), were gathered and laid in rows in their plantations of Kumara, or sweet potatoes, between the beds, and there slowly burnt, that the insects which injured the growing plant might be destroyed by the disagreeable bitter smoke. The Hue, or gourd, (a species of Cucurbitœ), gave useful Calabashes, and vessels of several kinds and sizes, from a gill to three gallons, for many purposes. Sometimes, however, large sections of the great sea-weed, Rimurapa, (D’Urvillea utilis) were inflated and used as Calabashes, called Powha, particularly for holding cooked animal food in its own fat, and for oil. The bark of the Totara was also skilfully made up into neat vessels, for holding and carrying of water. (3.) Of Plants and vegetable substances used as Ornament, &c., the following are the principal:—For Dyes, the bark of the Hinau, and of the Pokaka (Elœocarpus dentatus, and Hookerianus), and also of the Makomako, (Aristotelia racemosa), were used for black; and the bark of the Tanekaha, or Toatoa, (Phyllocladus trichomanoides), for red. Oil, for anointing, was expressed from the beaten seeds of the Titoki or Titongi, (Alectryon excelsum), and also
from the seeds of the Kohia (Passiflora tetrandra.) A gum-resin, used to perfume their oil, was obtained from the Kohuhu, and the Tarata, (Pittosporum tenuifolium, and P. eugenioides), and also from the Taramea, (Aciphylla Colensoi), which last was very highly prized. The strong smelling ferns, Hymenophyllum villosum, Doodia media, and Polypodium pustulatum, were also used for the same purpose of perfuming, and for scenting oil; and so were a few fragrant Mosses, and Hepaticœ, called Kopura,—especially Lophocolea Novœ-Zelandiœ, and allodonta. The aromatic leaves of the Raukawa, a very scarce small tree, sparsely growing in the high dense forests, (Panax Edgerleyi), were also sought for a similar purpose; particularly to rub their limbs and bodies. The daisy like flowers of the Roniu (Brachycome odorata,) and the flowering tops of the sweet-scented grass Karetu (Hierochloe redolens), were worn around the neck, enclosed in fibrous leaves, as a scented necklace. Elegant female head-dresses were formed of flowering wreaths of various species of Clematis, (particularly hexasepala and Colensoi), and of the graceful Waewaekoukou (Lycopodium volubile). Sometimes the snow-white downy fibres from the under side of the leaves of the Kowharawhara, and the Kahakaha, (Astelia Cunninghamii, and Solandri,) and the thin transparent epidermis from the leaves of the mountain Tikumu (Celmisia coriacea), were also used by females to ornament the hair and head. The fresh gum-resin from the Kauri (Dammara australis) was commonly chewed as a masticatory (h.), so also was that obtained from the Tawhiwhi, or Kohuhu, (Pittosporum tenuifolium,) mixed with the inspissated juice of the Puwha, or Sow-thistle, (Sonchus oleraceus,) ingeniously collected. Combs were made of Mapara and Kapara, the hard dark woody tissue, or heart wood of Rimu, (Dacrydium cupressinum,) which was assiduously sought for in the forest among old prostrate rotting Rimu trees; they were also carved out of Mataii and Manuka woods. The spines of the Tumatakuru, or New Zealand Thorn, (Discaria Toumatou,) were sometime used for tattooing, though instruments of bone were preferred; the black pigment for the same operation being obtained from the soot of old and hard Kapia, or Kauri resin, dug out of the earth; and also from the ashes of the curious vegeto-caterpillar fungus, the Hawhato (Cordiceps Robertsii), which was sometimes mixed with the black juice of the Mahoe berry (Melicytus ramiflorus). Flutes were made of the woody stems of the Kohoho or Poroporo, (Solanum aviculare), and of the Tupakihi or Tutu (Coriaria ruscifolia). Ornamental boxes for holding
feathers, &c., with their covers, were generally carved out of Mataii wood; and flying-kites were very ingeniously made of the Toetoe (Cyperus ustulatus). After the introduction of flint and steel, the pith of the flowering stems of the New Zealand Flax, served for tinder; and so did the Pukawa, a fungus (Boletus) of enormously large growth, often found on the upper branches of the Tawhai-rau-nui (Fagus ?fusca). On the New Zealanders learning to write, they used the juice of the root of the New Zealand flax as ink; the crimson juice of the berry of the Kokihi, (a species of Tetragonia—T. trigyna,—) and the dark juice of the berries of Schefflera digitata, were also used for the same purpose. Sometimes they used a green leaf of New Zealand Flax for writing on, etching on it with a nail, or style of hard wood, thus unknowingly imitating their Asiatic neighbours. It is highly doubtful whether the New Zealanders ever used any vegetable as an internal medicine before their intercourse with Europeans; for severe burns, however, they applied outwardly the ashes and charcoal dust of burnt fern fronds, (Pteris esculenta,) and the fine reddish dust of the large decaying fungus Pukurau (Lycoperdon Fontainesii). The blanched bases of the leaves of the Harakeke (Phormium), and the roots of the Rengarenga or Maikaika, (Arthropodium cirrhatum,) were sometimes roasted and beaten to a pulp, and applied warm to unbroken tumours and abscesses. As a cataplasm for ulcers they used the leaves of the Kohoho or Poroporo, (Solanum aviculare,)—and for wounds and old ulcerated sores, they used the large leaves of the Pukapuka, or Rangiora, (Brachyglottis repanda), and also the Hune, or Pappus down of the large Bulrush, but merely as a protection against dust, &c. Layers of dry Totara bark, and the lower parts of stout green flax leaves, served admirably as splints, in cases of broken bones; the New Zealanders being far better Surgeons than Physicians. And the leaves of several particular plants were in request for their rude steam, or vapour, baths, for Rheumatic, and other stubborn and chronic complaints; but it is highly questionable whether the benefit derived from such baths did not arise entirely from the warm vapour. They sometimes rubbed the fresh juice of the Ngaio (Myoporum lœtum) over their skin, to keep off the persecuting Namu (Sandfly); and for several years they have used as purgative medicines, the juice of the root of the New Zealand Flax (Phormium), and the bark of the Kowhai (Edwardsia grandiflora);—as a tonic, the leaves of the Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile); as a demulcent, in colds, &c., the bark of the Houhere ((Hoheria populnea); as a diaphoretic, Mentha Cunninghamii; and, as slightly alterative, a decoction
of the bark and stems of the Pikiarero (Clematis hexasepala), and the root of the Tatarahake (Coprosma acerosa.)
24. Touching the Œconomic Botany of the present time—or æra of New Zealand Colonization—not a little has been already done by the early Settlers to show the uses, qualities, and values of many of the Timbers, and other vegetable substances, of the North Island of New Zealand. Indeed, several of her Botanical productions are better known in the old world than those of much older Colonies. In now considering these, it is purposed to do so, more with reference to their utility, &c., than to their Botanical sequence or arrangement. Consequently, the principal timber trees will be first noticed.
(i.) The Chief timber-producing trees,—i.e., those which are usually sawn into boards for common purposes,—are seven in number; all being Botanically classed under the natural family, Coniferœ; although really possessing among them only one true Pine. This is the farfamed and justly celebrated Kauri, (Dammara australis) the largest and most useful of all the New Zealand timber trees. This stately tree grows commonly to the height of 140–150 feet, a few reach to 170, or even 200 feet. In general it has a clean trunk fifty to sixty feet in height, before reaching the branches, (which are enormously large, and diverge around the stem from one spot)—with a barrel of eight or nine feet, tapering gradually to five or six feet. The largest clean and perfect barrel seen by the writer was twelve feet in diameter; and the largest spar recorded, was cut at the Hokianga River in 1839, it measured 106 feet in length, without a knot, and was two feet square at the smaller end. In a Kauri forest the spar trees are in proportion as one to four, or five, to the trees fit for sawing. Of this timber there are three varieties known in the market,—the white, the red, and the mottled, (the last being rather scarce) which are not Botanically distinct. The light-coloured wood has the straightest grain, and is said to be less brittle when dry, and easier to work; the darker kind will admit of a good polish, and is a handsomer wood than the former, but it is only the mottled variety that can be considered a fancy wood; this kind sometimes resembles bird’s-eye maple, or knotted oak, and makes really handsome picture-frames, and pannelling, and takes a good polish. The colour of the varieties of Kauri wood, varies from a light straw to a reddish light-brown; fancy pieces may often be met with delicately marked and variegated, with a wavy flowing appearance, which also take a beautiful polish. Its detriment, however, as a wood, is its great
tendency to shrink and contract in length as well as in breadth, and this it does, however old or seasoned, when freshly planed. It is largely used by the Shipwright, the House-builder, and the Cabinet Maker; two-thirds of the houses in the North Island, and all the many vessels and boats, are mainly, if not entirely, built of this timber; and from a time long before the date of the Colony, many cargoes of Kauri spars were taken to England for the purposes of the Royal Navy. The demand for this timber is very great, and has ever been increasing. The quantity exported from Auckland and the Northern ports of the Auckland Province, in 1863, was,—of spars and rickers, 270 tons, value £1,953; of sawn timber, 1,552,636 feet, and of squared wood, 1,641 loads, the value of the two last items being £16,000. Although confined to the northern parts of the North Island,—see, par. 13, (ii.),—it grows in all soils, and at several altitudes from the sea-side to 1,500 feet, preferring, however, the dry and sterile clays of the hilly districts. It is still very plentiful, and is likely to meet all demands for 50 future years; although, as a matter of course, it is yearly getting less accessible. Many miles of valuable Kauri forests have been from time to time thoughtlessly consumed by fire; which fires, it is sincerely hoped, will not hereafter be so frequent as they have been. There are few sights more impressive of grandeur, than an untouched forest of this stately tree; few more impressive of misery and devastation, than a worked-out and abandoned one!
(ii.) The next valuable tree of this class, and scarcely less so than the Kauri pine, is the Totara (Podocarpus Totara); which, while generally found throughout the North Island, abounds in the Provinces of Hawkes’ Bay, and Wellington, where it forms fine forests. It often attains the height of 120 feet, and upwards, with a clean trunk of from fifty to sixty, or even to seventy, feet, without a knot; having a diameter of five, or even six feet, tapering gradually to twenty inches. It is not generally found near the sea, (although it has been met with overhanging the tidal rocks) and flourishes most on rich alluvial levels. The wood of this tree is hard, and generally of a dark dull pink colour, resembling pencil cedar; it works freely, and when polished is handsome, and very suitable for massy ornamental interior work. In the southern parts of the North Island, (particularly Wellington) the better and more durable houses, churches, &c., are generally built of it. It is the best New Zealand wood for bridges, wharfs, piles, &c.; as it possesses the valuable property of resisting rot, more especially in wet
situations. It splits well, and makes excellent shingles for roofs; and is very extensively used for posts in fencing. The heavier articles of furniture are sometimes made of it; and the portion of its wood which grows under a “knot,” (or large warty excrescence, often seen on its trunk) is peculiarly veined, owing to its grain there being very tortuous, and when polished highly beautiful. Those “knots” are eagerly sought after for veneering purposes in England, but the supply hitherto has been very scanty. (Vide § iv. sequente.)
(iii.) The Kahikatea, or White, or Swamp, Pine, (Podocarpus dacrydioides) is the next commonly used timber tree. It is the most generally diffused throughout the North Island of all the timber trees, often forming large forests; and is almost invariably found in wet spots and swampy situations, and often on the low banks of rivers, at a much lower elevation than its congeners. It often grows to the height of 100 feet, and as its trunk is generally clear from living branches, it presents a tolerably clean barrel of from 50 to 70 feet. Its trunk, however, is frequently not so regularly formed as those of the other Podocarpi and the Kauri, being sometimes largely ribbed or buttressed for some distance upwards from its base. This tree is anything but handsome when growing in the close forest; often, however, a single tree is met with standing alone and forming a very beautiful object. The timber of this tree has been, and is, pretty extensively used for all common purposes, apart from exposure or wet. It is the most easily obtained of all the New Zealand timbers; but, owing to its tendence to rot when exposed, and to its scarcely ever seasoning, (continually contracting and expanding with the state of the weather,) it is only used when others are not to be had. For in-door work, however, it is often advantageously used. It is straight-grained, and where free from knots works easily. It has been used for spars for small vessels; and is sometimes split for fencerails, and for roof shingles. It is often found having fissures in the wood, filled with a hard dry adhesive gum-resin, which is difficult to cut or remove. It is said, that trees which have grown on a slope, or on gravelly land, possess closer-grained and more durable timber, than those of the low wetlands. Choice parts of the wood of this tree, from its light yellow colour, and rich changeable sparkling grain, are sometimes advantageously used as a contrast wood by the Cabinet Maker, to set off the darker coloured woods.
(iv.) The Rimu or Red Pine, (Dacrydium cupressinum) another large size timber tree, is also common throughout the North Island; but
is never met with forming forests, almost always scattered and single. In its young state,—owing to its light green colour, graceful shape, fine foliage, and long drooping pendent branches,—it is a truly elegant object, often rivetting, for a few moments the entranced beholder; especially when seen standing out to advantage in bold relief on the slope of some secluded sunny dell in the virgin forests! forcibly reminding him of Xerxes and the beautiful plane-tree on the Mæander.244 In the northern parts of the Island this tree affects much higher ground than the foregoing; it attains to the height of from 50 to 70 feet, with a diameter of from 4 to 5 feet; and is lower branched than its congeners. Its wood is tolerably close-grained and hard, and varies considerably in colour, from yellowish to a dull red interspersed with dark-brown streaks. It makes handsome furniture, takes a good polish, and is suitable for finished inside work; although it is often rather difficult to work, owing to its natural fissures (frequent in the best wood) filled with a hard resinous concretion much like some wood of the Kahikatea, or White Pine, already mentioned. Its wood is in general use by the Cabinet Maker and Turner, and by the Carpenter and House-builder; and is sometimes used by the Joiner and Millwright. At the North, where it is more plentiful than Totara, it is often used for fence posts, being tolerably durable. From published official sources we learn that the quantity of sawn timber (kind not specified, but supposed to comprise the last three mentioned kinds, Totara, and White, and Red Pine) exported from the Port of Wellington, in the year 1863, was 2,143,303 feet, value, £19,705.
(v.) The Mataii (Podocarpus spicata), another large-sized timber tree, is also common throughout the North Island, but (like the Rimu) is generally found alone. It is sometimes found growing in forests with the Rimu, but often it affects lower grounds; preferring rich alluvial soil. It grows to a height of 70–90 feet, and a diameter of 4–5 feet, with a straight clean trunk and few branches. The wood is variously coloured, sometimes reddish, and sometimes variegated; it is easily worked, is hard, and pretty durable; and is used for Wheelwrights’ and Millwrights’ work, and for Cabinet Making and pannelling.
(vi.) The Miro (Podocarpus ferruginea), is also a timber tree pretty general throughout the Island, but not so common as the Mataii. It grows to a height of from 40 to 60 feet, but is small in girth, rarely reaching 3 feet in diameter. The wood is smooth, close grained, and
dark, splits freely, and is very durable. It is used for spokes, and for Carpenter’s work; and would no doubt be more extensively used if it were of larger dimensions, and more easily obtained.
(vii.) The Tanekaha or Toatoa, (Phyllocladus trichomanoides) is also a timber tree of the same Natural Order as the last five trees, but very different from them in size and appearance. It is one of the “Celery-leaved Pines,” and being an ornamental tree of regular growth, often has a very handsome appearance. It is plentiful on dry hilly lands in the North parts of the Island, but scarce in its more Southern parts. Its average height is from 45 to 50 feet, and from 2 to 3 feet in diameter. It is used for all kinds of outside work, as posts, rails, and floors of verandahs, and is greatly preferred for decks of vessels. The wood is rather too heavy for spars, although it has been occasionally used for masts and booms. In colour it is a darker yellow than the Kauri, has a closer grain, and a turpentine like smell. It is a very valuable wood, but, from its small size and not being easily accessible, it has not been so largely used as it deserves.
25. Those other large timber trees which are commonly split for use, or chopped, or sawn into short junks, (rarely into boards, or planks) for the market, are six in number, and comprise the following:—
(i.) The Puriri, or New Zealand Oak, or Teak, (Vitex littoralis) is a large tree of irregular growth. It grows to the height of from 50 to 60 feet, with a clear trunk of 20 feet, or more, and varies from 12 to 25 feet in circumference. Much larger trees, however, are occasionally met with. Several are often found growing near each other, forming a handsome dark green clump of wood. It is confined to the North parts of the Island, (see par. 13, § ii.,) where it prefers a rich soil, and is sometimes met with overhanging tidal rocks and beaches. From its earliest growth this tree is subject to the borings of a large larva like insect, which makes long clean cut holes throughout the hardest part of the wood, large enough to admit a man’s small finger. Of course this gives the wood a most unsightly appearance, yet it is but little injured thereby. The wood is heavy, of an olive, or brownish colour, close in the grain, splits freely, and works well; it is extensively used for knees in ship-building, for piles in house-building, for gate and fencing posts, and for every purpose where solidity, strength, and exemption from rot is required. It is estimated as being about equal with English Oak, in stiffness, strength, and toughness.
(ii.) The Kahikatoa or Manuka, (Leptospermum Scoparium,) is a tree common throughout the North Island. It grows in the poorest as well as in the richest soil, but prefers steep and dry hill sides. It sometimes attains to a height of 40, or even 45 feet, and to a diameter of 2 feet. Often a large patch, or small forest, of this tree will be found growing closely together, without any other tree among them. The wood is very hard, and of a dark colour, varying from yellow to red and dark brown; and is admirably fitted for the Cabinet Maker and Turner. It makes good axe handles, and is extensively used as rails for fencing, for which purpose it is one our best New Zealand woods. It is also excellent fuel, and many thousands of tons of it as firewood, are annually used in and exported from Auckland.
(iii.). The Tawhai, and Tawhai-rau-nui, or Black and Red Birches, (Fagus Solandri and F. fusca) often form large and sometimes handsome trees. Though plentiful in the South parts of the Island, with one exception they are not found north of the East Cape; yet, where they flourish, especially in the higher mountainous grounds, they often form large forests. They run from 80 to 100 feet in height, and (according to the species and soil) from 3 to 7 feet in diameter. The wood, unfortunately, is not of great use or value as timber, yet is sometimes used for boat-knees, and for cask staves. That of the Black Birch, however, is extensively used for fence rails in the Province of Wellington; and is said, when well dried, to make good firewood.
(iv.) The Pohutukawa, (Metrosideros tomentosa) is another large hard-wooded tree of diffuse irregular growth. Its habitat is the immediate sea-shore of the North parts of the Island; where, on rocky headlands and cliffs, sometimes pendent, it forms a striking and picturesque object. It is very robust, sometimes being 4, or even 5, feet in diameter, but the trunk and branches are invariably more or less crooked. Nevertheless it is a very valuable tree, especially for ship-building purposes, where its gnarled and crooked character make it highly serviceable for timbers, knees, breast-hooks, &c.,—it is also used for making ship’s blocks, and for building piles. This wood presents a very handsome grain, a rich rose colour, and a high polish, when worked up by the Cabinet Maker, and choice pieces are in great demand. The area, or zone, in which this valuable tree is found being very limited, its wood will soon be exhausted unless some means are speedily made use of to economise it.
(v.) The Rata, (Metrosideros robusta) a tree very closely allied generically to the Pohutukawa, is one of the largest of the New Zealand forest trees, often attaining a height of 120 feet, of which from 60 to 80 feet forms its trunk; which is sometimes very bulky,—one having been measured which was 54 feet in girth. Unlike the preceding, however, it is mostly found inland, at a tolerably high elevation, and is pretty general throughout the Island. Its growth is both regular and irregular, mainly arising from situation and soil. Its wood is heavy, red, close-grained, and durable; and is very valuable to the Wheelwright and to the Ship-builder, on account of its strength and toughness, owing to the peculiar twisting of its fibres; the roots and branches as well as the trunk affording excellent materials for naves, timbers, and knees. It is also a handsome wood for the purposes of the Cabinet Maker; and will answer well for all uses where Oak and Beech are required.
(vi.) The Aka, (Metrosideros scandens) although (in bulk) a small tree, or climber, may also here be noticed; as it not only belongs to the same genus with the two preceding, and to the same sub-section, but is also very closely allied to them in its qualities and uses. This plant is generally common in all woods, and may be known as a large stout climber ascending to the tops of the highest trees, and often hanging like loose ropes from them. Like the others of the genus already noticed, it is heavy, close-grained, and tough, and is principally used for timbers for boats.
26. The trees which follow, though many are small and scarcely timber trees, comprise some which are very useful to the Manufacturer.—
(i.) The Kowhai, or New Zealand Acacia, (Sophora, or Edwardsia, grandiflora) is a small tree, sometimes reaching to the height of 30 or 35 feet. Its wood is hard, and of two or three colours or varieties, varying from a bright yellow, in some specimens, to that of a light olive, or a dull Indian pink, in others. It is well fitted for the purposes of the Cabinet Maker and the Millwright.
(ii.) The Hinau, (Elæocarpus dentatus,) a tree generally common in the drier woods in the interior, attains to the height of from 50 to 60 feet, and 3 feet, or upwards, in diameter. The wood, in general, of this tree is inferior, but the crooked parts of the wood, with the knots and warty excrescences, have a very beautiful marbled grain, and are therefore valuable to the Cabinet Maker.
(iii.) The Towai, and Tawhero, (Weinmannia sylvicola, and W. racemosa,) are small trees which are found throughout the interior. Their average height is 40 feet, and about 2 feet in diameter. Their wood is said to be heavy, close-grained, and red, and to answer all purposes to which Mahogany, or New South Wales Cedar, is applied.
(iv.) The Titoki or Titongi, (Alectryon excelsum,) is a tree general throughout the Island. It is of lofty growth, sometimes reaching 60 or 70 feet, and 3 feet in diameter; it has a pleasing appearance, and is low branched. Its wood is straight in the grain, and is very tough, and is much like that of the English Ash. It is used by Wheelwrights and Shipwrights, and may be applied to like purposes with that of the Ash.
(v.) The Kohekohe, (Dysoxylum spectabile) is a handsome tree which is only found plentifully in the North parts of the Island. (See par. 13, § ii.) It reaches to the height of 50 or 60 feet, having its trunk clear of branches to the height of 30 or 40 feet, and of 3 feet diameter. Its wood is fine-grained, of a pale reddish colour, and is heavier than the New South Wales Cedar. It is used in the making of Furniture.
(vi.) The Tangeao or Mangeao, (Tetranthera calicaris,) is a small tree, also confined to the Northernmost parts of the Island, where it is tolerably abundant. It reaches to the height of 45 feet, but its trunk is seldom above 18 inches in diameter. Its wood is of a dark reddish brown colour, and admits of a good polish; it is said to equal that of the Elm in lightness, durability, and extraordinary toughness. It is used for Agricultural Implements, Bullock Yokes, and Oars, and (lately) for Ship’s Blocks, for which last purpose it is likely to be very valuable. It would probably make good spokes and cogs.
(vii.) The Rewarewa, (Knightia excelsa,) is a handsome tree of peculiar fastigiate—or poplar-like—growth. It is much more plentiful in the North than it is in the South parts of the Island. It is generally found in dry woods, and often attains to the height of 60 feet, although its diameter is rarely 3 feet. Its wood is beautifully variegated and mottled, reddish on a light-brown ground; and is used for Picture Frames, and Fancy Work. It splits freely, and is therefore used for fence pales.
(viii.) The Maire:—two, or more, very distinct genera, containing several trees, (Santalum Cunninghamii, and Olea sp.,) are confounded under this Native name; although the Natives themselves generally
distinguish them pretty clearly,—calling the Olea, Maire-rau-nui. Both were by them called Maire, from the fact of both being hard-wooded, and formerly used by them for the same purposes. One of the trees (Santalum Cunninghamii,) is confined to the North parts; while the various species of Olea are more general, and much more plentiful in the South parts of the Island. It is highly doubtful whether the true Northern Maire (Santalum Cunninghamii) is yet much known in the Arts and Manufactures; it is a small tree, belonging to the Sandalwood family, and the species is confined to a very limited area. (See par. 11, § ii.) The large Maire tree, or Maire-rau-nui of the Aborigines, comprise 3 known species of Olive, (O. Cunninghamii, lanceolata, and montana,) one species being found generally throughout the Island. It commonly forms a large tree, 60 to 70, or even 100 feet high, and 4 feet, or more, in diameter. It is very closely allied to the European Olive, and to the “Iron-wood” of Norfolk Island,—all being species of the same genus. There are two kinds known to the Manufacturer;—a dark variety fit for Cabinet-Making, and a white variety fit for sheaves, and cogs, and for Wheelwrights’ work. The dark kind has a handsome grain, and polishes well; but its brittleness and great weight prevent its being more generally used.
(ix.) The Pukatea, (Atherosperma Novæ-Zelandiæ,) is among the largest trees of New Zealand, sometimes reaching the height of 150 feet, and a clear diameter of 5 to 7 feet, besides having immensely thick buttresses at the base. The wood, however, is soft, and will not split; and (at present) is little used save in boat-building; it is highly serviceable for the bottom boards of boats, as in case of striking a rock, only the spot so struck is staved: a nail might be driven into the wood without splitting or boring.
(x.) The Tawa, (Nesodaphne Tawa,) is a fine tree, common throughout New Zealand, especially in the interior, often attaining to the height of 70 feet. Its wood is light and splits easily, and soon rots if exposed to wet; notwithstanding, from its freeness of splitting, it is used for fence rails, and for shingles, in places where it abounds.
(xi.) The Taraire, (Nesodaphne Tarairi,) another species of the same genus, but confined to the North parts of the Island, (vide par. 11., § ii,) is a handsomer and still larger tree; yet its wood, being similar in quality, is of little use.
(xii.) The Ake, or New Zealand Lignum Vitæ, (Dodonæa viscosa,) is a small tree, or large shrub, seldom attaining a greater diameter than 1 foot.
It is found generally on dry ground throughout the Island, but is both more plentiful and larger at the North parts. Its wood is very hard and very heavy, (being by far the heaviest of all the New Zealand woods,) is of a reddish colour, and is often variegated with dark streaks, or mottled with a succession of knots, giving it a peculiarly beautiful appearance. It is used for Sheaves, Axe-handles, &c.
(xiii.) The Tipau, or Mapau, (Myrsine australis,) is a small leafy tree, 15 to 20 feet high, found sparingly throughout the Island, but more plentiful at the North. Its wood resembles Beech, and is used for Chair making, Carpenters’ tools, Walking sticks, &c.
(xiv.) The Wharangi, or Wharangi-pirou, (Melicope ternata,) is a small tree, 12–15 feet high, generally found throughout the Island. Its wood resembles Satin-wood, and is used by the Cabinet Maker for inlaying Fancy work.
(xv.) The Kawaka, (Libocedrus Doniana,) is a middle-sized hard-wooled tree of the Pine family. It is sparingly found and generally at much higher elevations than the larger timber trees, hence it is not much known. It is confined to the North parts of the Island, where it attains to a height of from 30 to 40 feet, (or more) and from 2 to 3 feet in diameter. Its wood is dark coloured, beautifully grained, close and heavy; well suited for picture frames. In the lower part of its trunk the wood is said to resemble the “tulip-wood” of New South Wales. This tree is very closely allied to the famed “Alerse” (Thuja tetragona) of South Chili and the Straits of Magellan; and is believed to be a very valuable wood.
27. There still remains to be noticed a few more indigenous vegetable substances known in commerce; foremost among which as valuable exports are two of world-wide fame, though peculiar to the Island, vis.— the New Zealand Flax, and the Kauri Gum.—
(i.) The New Zealand Flax, or fibre of the Phormium tenax and of Ph. Colensoi, and of their varieties, (Muka of the Natives, as the dressed fibre of the Harakeke, or Flax Plant) has long been too well known to require any lengthened remarks here. The plants are common in every situation and soil throughout the Island, or the New Zealand groupe, (including also Norfolk Island) where alone the Phormium is found indigenous. (g.) Some swamps, or low grounds, possess it as almost the only plant, growing continuously for miles. Formerly it was hand-dressed in large quantities by the Aborigines, both for home consumption among themselves and for sale, and was exported very largely. As an
article of export it has greatly diminished, but this is entirely owing to the Natives having generally given up the dressing the plant for sale,— to the dearth of hand labour—and to the difficulty in properly preparing its fibre for use by machinery; which difficulty, however, will without doubt be eventually overcome. From official statistical papers it is gathered, that the export of hand-dressed Flax, during the 10 years ending 1852, from the port of Wellington alone, amounted to 523 tons 15 cwt., value £7,200: of which, nearly one-fourth, or 128 tons 10 cwt. 85lbs., was exported in one year, 1850. Of late years the export of this article has been very small compared with what it once was, and with what (it is firmly believed) it will yet be.
(ii) The Kapia, or Kauri Gum, is (as its colonial name shows) a Gum, or rather a Resin, from the Kauri Pine (Dammara australis); it is not however obtained in the present living Kauri Pine forests, but only in the North parts of the Province of Auckland, where (it is believed) such trees formerly grew,—yet of such ancient forests no other trace generally remains than the resin itself slightly buried in the soil. Large tracts of the country north of Auckland (particularly of the more barren spots) is of this description; and much of it has been already dug over, (carelessly perhaps) and the resin collected. It is now about 20 years since the Kauri gum was first noticed as an article of export; and it has been mainly, if not entirely, gathered by the Aborigines from the Thames to the North Cape. The quantity exported from Auckland, in 1863, was 1,400½ tons, worth £27,026; and the total quantity exported from that Province, during the 10 years ending 1862, amounted to 13,575 tons 18 cwt. 84lbs., worth £174,148. The largest quantity exported in any one year (1857), was 2,464 tons 10 cwt., worth £34,550.
(iii.) Another peculiar article of export, which has also been extensively used in the Colony for tanning, is the bark of the Towai (Weinmannia racemosa). This tree (or a closely allied species), is more or less common throughout the Island, but it is much more abundant in the Northern parts, where, too, its Bark has been more particularly gathered for use, and exported for tanning purposes.
(iv.) Other indigenous vegetable substances, which have been both successfully used and brought to market, are,—the Kareao, or Supplejack creeper (Rhipogonum parviflorum), as coarse Basket and Wicker work; Brooms, for ship and domestic purposes, made of the twiggy Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium); the woody stems of the white Mangrove (Avicennia officinalis), for soapmaking; the downy pappus
Hune from the fruiting heads of the large Bulrush, (Typha angustifolia,) for beds, bolsters and pillows; and Honey;—since the introduction of Bees and their becoming wild. Of this last article a large quantity increasing every year, (particularly at the North,) finds its way into the market.
28. It is reasonably believed, that there are yet several indigenous plants and vegetable substances which may prove to be valuable both for use and export; some of which are all but quite unknown to Arts and Manufactures: a few of them will be here mentioned.—
(i.) Of Timbers:—(a. known hard woods.) The Mairetawhake, (Eugenia Maire); the Rohutu (Myrtus pedunculata), especially the larger Southern tree; the Maire (Santalum Cunninghamii), a small tree with dark bark, of the Sandal-wood genus, scarcely averaging 30 feet in height, only known as growing in the dry forests Northward of 36° South; the Manoao (Dacrydium Colensoi), a small hard-wooded pine, incorruptible, (according to the Natives,) found sparingly in high and dry forests on the East Coast, north of Whangarei, and also in the mountainous country near Taupo; and the long leaved Myrsine (M. salicina), being the next species to the well-known and valued beech-like Tipau or Mapau, (M. australis,) and also a much larger tree. (b. trees supposed to be hard-wooded.) The Tawari (Ixerba brexioides), the Toro (Persoonia Toro), the Kohuhu, and the Tarata, (Pittosporum tenuifolium, and P. eugenioides,) and the Porokaiwhiri (Hedycarya dentata); besides which there are, the white-wooded Horoeka (Aralia, crassifolia), the Kaikomako (Pennantia corymbosa), the large species of Plagianthus (P. betulinus), and the Epicarpurus microphyllus (or Trophis opaca); all these, from their known affinities, are well worthy of a trial.
(ii.) Of Barks: a. for dyeing; the Hinau, and the Pokaka, (Elæocarpus dentatus, and E. Hookerianus,) for dyeing black; and the Makomako (Aristotelia racemosa), for a blue-black.—b. for tanning; the Toatoa, or Tanekaha (Phyllocladus trichomanoides), the Makamaka (Ackama rosæfolia), so closely allied to the Towai; and the Maanawa, or White Mangrove (Avicennia tomentosa,) the bark of which is said to be extensively used for tanning at Rio Janeiro.
(iii.) Sundries: The living bark, branches, stumps and roots, and even leaves, of the Kauri pine would yield a large amount of Kauri resin under proper management. The fibrous leaves of the Kiekie (Freycinetia Banksii), is an excellent article for
men’s hats,—far better than the largely imported common “Cabbage-tree” hat, and but little inferior to a coarse Leghorn or Manilla one, (as the writer knows from experience.) A serviceable Oil245 could be largely extracted from the seeds of the Titoki (Alectryon excelsum); and from the aromatic leaves and bark of the Pukatea (Atherosperma Novæ-Zelandiæ,) a valuable essential oil might also be extracted, seeing that from a closely allied Tasmanian plant (A. moschata), an essential oil, called “Sassafras Oil,” has been obtained; and Dr. F. Mueller has recently strongly recommended the bark of that tree as “deserving extensive adoption into Medicine.” Several Dye-Lichens are abundant in the Island, viz.—Usnea, Ramalina, and Parmelia, (P. conspersa, saxatilis, parietina, and perlata.) The pure semi-liquid Gum, found in such large quantities at the bases of the leaves of the New Zealand Flax, may yet be collected and form a matter of export; and Zostera,—useful for stuffing mattresses,—(the recently proposed substitute in England for manufacturing Paper,) is very plentiful in many of our tidal waters.
29. Having thus briefly noticed the utile, the dulce must not be overlooked; rather, (in the words of Goethe)— “Let us look closely after the beautiful, the useful will take care of itself.” Not a few of the Plants and Ferns of New Zealand have long been cultivated in England, from the time of her first British Visitors, and the number of those plants is annually increasing. Still, several highly ornamental and striking plants, (chiefly confined to forests in the interior, or to subalpine solitudes,) are believed to be unknown both to European and to Colonial Gardens. The most prominent and worthy of them will be now mentioned:—(i.) Large Shrubs, and Small Trees. Pittosporum, several species; Hoheria populnea, and H. Lyallii, with their several strongly marked ornamental varieties; Melicope simplex; Phebalium nudum; Leptospermum ericoides; Myrtus, 2 or 3 species; Ixerba brexioides; Senecio, several sp.; Leucopogon fasciculatus, and its varieties; Dracophyllum latifolium; Librocedrus Doniana, and Dacrydium Colensoi. (ii.) Small Shrubs. Carmichælia odorata, and C. flagelliformis; Fuchsia procumbens; Alseuosmia, several sp. and vars.; Coprosma, several sp.; Olearia, several sp.; Senecio Greyii; Gaultheria, several sp; Cyathodes Colensoi; Dracophyllum, several sp.; Veronica, several sp.; Pimelea, several sp.; and Cordyline, 2 or 3 species. (iii.) Herbaceous Plants. Ranunculus insignis, and R. nivicola, among
the largest species of the genus; Droscra binata; Aciphylla Colensoi; Celmisia, several sp.; Colensoa physaloides; Wahlenbergia saxicola; Gentiana montana, and G. pleurogynoides; Calceolaria Sinclairii; Ourisia, several sp.; Callixene parviflora; Forstera Bidwillii; Helophyllum Colensoi; and several of the peculiar orchideous plants, both terrestrial and epiphytical.
30. Lastly, of indigenous Medicinal plants and vegetable substances, a few will be here mentioned;—a future time may prove their value.
(i.) Those which have already been usefully tried:—the root of the Harakeke (Phormium tenax,) as an anthelmintic and cathartic; the leaves and bark of the Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile), as a tonic; the roots of the Kareao (Rhipogonum parviflorum) as an alterative,—this plant is very closely allied to the Sarsaparilla plant (Smilax sarsaparilla) and its roots have been beneficially used in New Zealand instead of that medicine which is so commonly adulterated (i); the bark of the Houhere (Hoheria populnea) as a demulcent; the fragrant herb Mentha Cunninghamii, as a diaphoretic; the aromatic leaves of Angelica rosæfolia, as a diuretic and remedial in syphilitic cases; and the roots of Taraxacum Dens-leonis, as an alterative.
(ii.) Those which, from their known natural affinities, are believed to be valuable; from such, the following are selected:—the spicy bark of the Horopito (Drimys axillaris) a species ranking next to the well-known D. Winteri of Cape Horn; which produces the valuable Winter’s Bark; the intensely bitter bark of the Kowhai (Sophora, or Edwardsia, grandiflora)—it is worthy of notice, that both African and East-Indian Kino is produced by plants of an allied genus of the same sub-order;—the leaves of the Wharangi-pirou (Melicope ternata)—as allied naturally to the genus Diosma, species of which genus produce the well-known Buchu leaves, which the New Zealand Melicope also resemble in taste and smell;—the Kawakawa (Piper excelsum)—many closely allied species of this genus (and of the next genus Cubeba,) are extensively used as Medicines in various parts of the world;—the aromatic succulent stems and roots of various species of Panax, and of Aralia,—of which genera several species are used in medicine, and the roots of P. Quinque-folium (a plant closely allied to some of our Panaces,) are sold by the Americans to the Chinese for real Ginseng root (P. Ginseng);—the astringent bark and diuretic seeds of Sapota costata;—the roots of the 2 Mountain Gentians, which are just as purely bitter as those of the officinal Gentiana lutea;—the aromatic bark of the Tawa (Nesodaphne
Tawa,) a plant belonging to the same Natural Order with those producing the Cinnamon, Cassia, Sassafras, Benzoin, and Camphor of commerce; and, lastly, the Waiwatua (Euphorbia glauca,) may also prove useful as a medicine, seeing so very many species of the same genus have long been medicinally employed.
31. Although the fitness and suitability of many parts of the North Island for producing all Cereals, and Edible Roots and Vegetables, and most European fruits, has long been well-known, and its great fruitfulness proved by its former large exports of the same,—after providing a sufficiency for its own people; still it would scarcely be proper to close this Essay without some reference to such productions. It is greatly to be lamented, that, with the exception of Potatoes, there has been no export of Agricultural produce for the last 3 years; owing, in part, to the war, and to the very great increase of consumers with less producers. For several years, however, before the present war commenced, the export of Cerealia from this Island had been steadily decreasing annually; as the following statement, compiled from official papers, will shew.