Cook Islands Biodiversity & Natural Heritage

Bischofia javanica



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General Information

COMMON NAMES: Bischofia, Toog

TRADITIONAL NAMES: Koka (RR); Other Polynesian - Koka / Tongotongo (FIJ), Koka (TON), ‘O‘a (SAM); COMMENT: Rarotonga: a new name emerging 2000 was Nato.

GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION: NATIVE India - China - Malesia - Samoa - Tonga - Cook Islands; EXOTIC EXOTIC Societies; Hawai‘i

COOK ISLANDS STATUS: Native, or possibly Polynesian Introduced and naturalised; Land, lowlands - mountains (+++) (mid-elev.)

SIGNIFICANCE LIST: Medicine, Material (Dye)

KEY FEATURES: A semi-deciduous, spreading tree to 25m. LEAVES terminal clusters, alternate, glossy green, compound with 3 leaflets. LEAFLETS oval, to 15x10cm, edge with low teeth, central stalklet notably longer than laterals. FLOWERS - male & female trees separate; terminal, minute, green; male clusters dense to 20cmØ; female clusters simpler. FRUIT: open clusters; brown, spherical, to 1cmØ.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Allophyllus timoriensis has compound leaves with 3-leaflets, but stalklets are all short (vs central much longer); fruits oval and ripen bright red (vs. round and brown).

Enlarged Image of 'Bischofia javanica'

Cook Islands Distribution

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Southern Group: Present    Makatea: -

Northern Group: -

Key to Symbols

Scientific Taxonomy

Bischofia javanica Blume
SYNONYMS: Bischoffia javanica [misspelt]; Allophyllus vitiensis [sensu GW]

TAXONOMY: PLANTAE; ANTHOPHYTA (=Angiospermae); MAGNOLIOPSIDA (=Dicotyledones); ROSIDAE; Euphorbiales; EUPHORBIACEAE. COMMENT: Named after G.W.Bischoff, with an original latinisation as Bischofia, not Bischoffia. This monotypic genus is here kept in EUPHORBIACEAE, while others put it in its own family BISCHOFIACEAE and place this in the order Sapindales.

More Information

SIGNIFICANCE NOTES -. Comment: NBSAP - Puaikura (3 of 3 wild plants)
POSITIVE SIGNIFICANCE: Medicine, Material (Dye). Comments: Used in Samoa and Tonga to make a dye for tapa cloth, this use is not recorded in the Cook Islands. Seeds are used as ammunition in peashooters. The fruits are used medicinally (Whistler 1990). Makes hard and durable posts. Timber similar to Mahogany - red and easily worked, though vulnerable to attack by borer.

GENERAL NOTE: The eastern limit of this species as an indigenous tree is difficult to determine, but presumably at least to Fiji, Samoa and Tonga; Cook Islands and Societies indigenous or Polynesian introduction; Hawaii a recent introduction (AC. Smith, Flora of Fiji). Gives hard and durable posts; and in Tonga and Samoa the bark is used to make a red-brown dye commonly used on tapa [AC Smith].

Vouchers & References

None Recorded.

p.601 Wagner et al.- Flowering Plants of Hawaii
p.504 Neal - In Gardens of Hawaii
p.165 Hortus 3rd
p.153 Royal Hort. Soc. Index of Garden Plants
p.407 Tropica
p.2/495 A.C.Smith - Flora Vitiensis Nova
p.295 I Cheeseman - Flora of Rarotonga
p.69 Wilder - Flora of Rarotonga
p.370c Whistler - Ethnobotany of the Cook Islands
p.108 McCormack/Kunzle - Rarotonga's Mountain Tracks and Plants

Data Update History (information):
zTX, zB02, zM03a, zD02

Web Resources

Citation Information

McCormack, Gerald (2007) Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, Version 2007.2. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, Rarotonga. Online at Copy citation to system clipboard
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