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Claire wrote today"s entry (thanks again, Claire):
A change from flowers for today. Tony Foster (Tonyfoster@Flickr) from Kaeo, New Zealand, provided this photograph (via the BPotD Flickr Pool) of fruit of the small tree, Mida salicifolia. Much appreciated Tony!
A native to the North Island of New Zealand, Mida salicifolia of the Santalaceae is a small tree found in mixed podocarp forests. The Santalaceae contains 44 genera and 990 species and is broadly distributed throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world.
A hemi-parasite like other members of its family, Mida salicifolia parasitizes through its roots, where it steals some nutrients from its host (often the kauri tree, Agathis australis). However, the species is also capable of photosynthesizing and living independently. A well-known example of another hemi-parasitic species in the family is mistletoe.
Maire taiki is the Māori name for Mida salicifolia, but there are several other species of native New Zealand trees bearing the name maire such as maire hau (Leionema nudum)and maire tawake (Syzgium maire). The Māori Dictionary has additional matches for maire. English common names include New Zealand sandalwood and willow-leaved maire.
The leaves of Mida salicifolia are lance-like (salicifolia = "leaves of a willow") and glossy. Its flowers (see photos on link) are quite diminutive compared to the size and appearance of the bright red berries (7-12 x 6-8 mm). Often this species is confused at a glance with small trees of Nestegis species (common names also being maire), but can be easily distinguished by looking at the leaf arrangement: Mida salicifolia has alternate leaves while Nestegis spp. have opposite leaves. Additional photographs of the flowers and vegetative parts of Mida salicifolia (and another member of the family, Korthalsella salicornioides can be found on the University of Auckland, Biological Sciences website: Santalaceae.
The New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (also linked above) states that Mida salicifolia is in decline in areas where browsing occurs from introduced mammal species such as goat, possum, and deer. However, it is relatively widespread, and remains especially abundant on possum-free islands.