Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Maesopsis eminii
Engl., Rhamnaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 8 (Go to the risk assessment).

Other Latin names:  Karlea berchemioides Pierre; Maesopsis berchemioides (Pierre) A. Chev.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: musizi, umbrella tree

Habit:  tree

Description:  "Trees (5-) 15-25 (-42) m tall; trunk (1-) 2-5 (-10) dm thick; bark silvery grey with vertical twisted furrowing; slash red outside, yellow near the wood; heartwood yellowish, darkening on exposure to reddish brown.  Year-old branchlets glabrescent, smooth, brownish, lenticellate; youngest branches ovate, 7-14 cm long, 2.5-6 cm wide, lustrous above, paler beneath, glabrous except when quite young, at base rounded to subcordate, acuminate, at margins with rounded more or less salient teeth or projections 0.3-5 mm long, on each side of midrib with (6-) 7-10 secondary nerves; petioles 6-12 mm long, puberulent to glabrescent.  Stipules 2-6 mm long, puberulent.  Cymes 1-5 cm long, many-flowered; primary peduncle 4-25 mm long; ultimate pedicels 1-3 (-6) mm long.  Sepals more or less 1.5 mm long.  Drupe (only 1, 2 or rarely 3 fruits set per inflorescence) obovoid or narrowly so, 22-30 mm long, 10-16 mm thick, the style and stigma persistent; outer portion of mesocarp fleshy"  (Johnston, 1972; pp. 36-38).

"Maesopsis is a large tree reaching up to 43 m high and a diameter at breast height (dbh) of 100 cm. The trunk is not buttressed, but is cylindrical and straight, free from branches for 10 to 20 m. On young trees the branches are at 45 and on older specimens the branches bend to almost horizontal and curve up away from the trunk. Young trees have a flattened top where the leader is generally at a lower level than the surrounding branches.

"The tree is a monkey's nightmare, as it is self-pruning. Branches up to 5 cm at the base die, dry and are naturally shed or broken away by external agencies such as animals, wind and climbers (Kingston 1974). At Amani numerous side branches die during the dry season and are shed during the first storm at the start of the rainy season. When mature, trees lose almost completely their ability to shed branches and they produce a spreading and rounded crown. The number of branch bifurcations is very low and was never observed to be greater than 6 on any specimen. This unusual feature for a dicotyledonous tree species arises because of the self-pruning habit.

"The first four leaves of all branches are alternate, then they become subopposite or occasionally opposite. New branches and inflorescences are borne at the base of the leaves and grow slightly upwards and forward at roughly 45<°. The process initiating twig or inflorescence formation is not known but during the flowering season an inflorescence is produced at the base of each leaf, with the exception of every third to tenth leaf where a twig is produced instead.

"The leaves have a petiole c. 1 cm long and are 9 cm long by 2.75 cm wide. The apex is acuminate and the leaf margins have prominent, fairly widely spaced blunt teeth. Leaves may be shed completely where the dry season is particularly severe, but this is not the case at Amani and Kwamkoro.

"Flowers are small, yellow-green and are in small axillary cymes up to 5 cm long. The flowers are perfect and have 5 united sepals and 5 small hooded petals, which almost completely cover one stamen each. The ovary is superior and unilocular. Only I, 2 or rarely 3-5 fruits set per inflorescence. The fruit is ovoid, with one end tapering, and measures 2 to 3 cm in length. It consists of a soft fleshy exocarp surrounding a hard mesocarp and an endocarp. The embryo is enclosed by a thin brown testa. The fruit as it matures turns from green to yellow and finally to purple"  (Binggeli, 1989).

Habitat/ecology:  "Usually described as a pioneer, M. eminii germinates and seedlings survive under forest canopy for a few months.  However, to grow and reach canopy height, M. eminii requires large canopy gaps.  At the forest-savanna boundary it becomes established under shrubby vegetation"  (Binngeli, 1997).

Propagation:  Seed, spread by fruit-eating birds. Coppices freely after being cut (Binggeli, 1997).

Native range:  Tropical Africa; also cultivated (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Fiji Islands   Meyer, Jean-Yves (year unknown)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Fiji Islands   Bulai, Sairusi (year unknown)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
cultivated
Imada, Clyde T./Staples, George W./Herbst, Derral R. (2013) (p. Voucher specimens)
Vouchers cited: Hirano 9 (BISH 76515, BISH 487308), Flynn 5470 (BISH 637284)
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands introduced
cultivated
Hancock, I. R./Henderson, C. P. (1988) (p. 89)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 58)
Cultivated only

Comments:  Planted for timber and naturalizing in Fiji (J.-Y. Meyer and S. Bulai, personal communication).

Invasive in the rain forests of the East Usambaras, Tanzania, and in Rwanda, India and Puerto Rico (Binggeli, 1997). Cultivated in Sumatra, Java and Borneo.


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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 27 AUG 2017.