Cook Islands Biodiversity & Natural Heritage

Homalanthus moerenhoutianus

East Polynesian Homalanthus

Multimedia & Additional Resources

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Open this image in pop-up window Image: Leaves and fruit 93KB
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Open this image in pop-up window Image: compare Homalanthus nutans 79KB

General Information

COMMON NAMES: East Polynesian Homalanthus


COOK ISLANDS STATUS: Native, Endemic of Southeast Polynesia; S.Group only (Rarotonga only - Cloud Zone); Land, mountains (+)

SIGNIFICANCE LIST: ; Nationally endangered (seriously)

KEY FEATURES: A small tree to 5m. LEAVES terminal clusters, alternate, wide-oval to triangular, to 10x10cm, surface waxy, edge very wavy, veins conspicuous, topside green, underside pale green; stalk long, to 10cm. FLOWERS a spike to 10cm with 1-2 female flowers at base then many small male flowers. FRUIT pendant, oval, to 10x8mm, with 4 ridges, and conspicuous remnant style; often asymmetrical, ripens red. SEED ovoid, 6x2mm.

Enlarged Image of 'Homalanthus moerenhoutianus'

Cook Islands Distribution

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Southern Group: Present    Makatea: -

Northern Group: -

Key to Symbols

Scientific Taxonomy

Homalanthus moerenhoutianus
SYNONYMS: Homalanthus nutans (J.G.A.Forster); Homalanthus pedicellatus [sensu TC]; Omalanthus pedicellatus; Omalanthus nutans [sensu authors]

TAXONOMY: PLANTAE; ANTHOPHYTA (=Angiospermae); MAGNOLIOPSIDA (=Dicotyledones); ROSIDAE; Euphorbiales; EUPHORBIACEAE. COMMENT: Homalanthus versus Omalanthus has been a controversial subject. The early history is that A.H.L.Jussieu wrote Omalanthus in 1824 and in 1828 Reichenback corrected the spelling to Homalanthus, which is considered a better translation of the Greek for "equal" or "level". The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature based on Esser 1996 [Taxon 45:555-556] ruled that the spelling Homalanthus is conserved. Following the rules of conservation the spelling is credited to A.H.L.Jussieu 1824 and not to Reichenbach 1828. The names are as listed below. Homalanthus A.Juss. 1824 (orth.cons. = spelling conserved) synonym Omalanthus A.Juss. 1824 (orth.var. = spelling variant) synonym Homalanthus Reichb. 1828 In our region the spelling Omalanthus is found in: A.C.Smith (Flora Vitiensis Nova, v.2, 1981), J.Florence (Flore de la Polynésie française, v.1, 1997) and A.Whistler (Plants in Samoan Culture, 2000).

More Information

BIODIVERSITY: Nationally endangered (seriously). Comment: Known from a few trees in the Cloud Forest of Rarotonga.

GENERAL NOTE: This species was formerly included in Homalanthus nutans with a distribution of Vanuatu to French Polynesia. Sykes (pers.comm.) concludes that the plants in the west are different from those of Rarotonga, and our plants should be called Homalanthus moerenhoutianus, and endemic of the Cooks Islands and the Socities.

Vouchers & References

None Recorded.

p.2/558 A.C.Smith - Flora Vitiensis Nova
p.295 I Cheeseman - Flora of Rarotonga
p.128 McCormack/Kunzle - Rarotonga's Mountain Tracks and Plants

Data Update History (information):
zTX, zB02, zupB06a, zM03a, zD05a, zupD05b

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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