Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
Alyxia scandens (Apocynaceae) and some other climbers / shrubs with scented flowers or foliage.


This name originated after the Marquesas and Hawaii began developing their own variants of the Central Eastern Polynesian linguistic tradition, but probably before the settlement, and possibly even the discovery of Aotearoa. It is not shared with Rarotongan, so possibly came to Aotearoa directly from Tahiti.

It seems to have been a generic name for creepers or small, delicately branched shrubs or trees with aromatic leaves or flowers and rather similarly-shaped flowers and fruits. Certainly the are visual and aromatic commonalities among all the plants, in Tahiti, the Tuamotus and Aotearoa that share the reflexes of this name, with the clumber Alyxia scandens probably the "type" plant. This is a member of the same botanical family as one of the two New Zealand plants bearing the name tawhiwhi, Parsonsia heterophylla.

I could not find any images of live plants of the tropical species that were free of copyright, and had not photographed any of them myself, but there are some links below. However I have included a photograph of the flowers of the nono, Morinda citrifolia, closely related to two of the Tahitian täfifi and reminiscent of the botanically unrelated New Zealand tawhiwhi as well as the other Tahitian plants sharing the inherited name.

Metrosideros fulgens
Flowers of nono, Morinda citrifolia.


Tahitian: Täfifi (Alyxia scandens [Apocynaceae]), Morinda myrtifolia, M. umbellata [Rubiaceae], & Jasminum didymum [Oleaceae])
Tuamotuan: Tähihi (Alyxia scandens)
Maori: Tawhiwhi (Pittosporum tenuifolium [Pittosporaceae] & Parsonsia heterophylla [Apocynaceae])

Metrosideros fulgens

Photographs: The drawing of Alyxia scandens is a reproduction of a plate in the Florilegium from Joseph Banks' visit to Tahiti in 1769, reproduced on http://www.yushodo.co.jp/kikou/banks/img/620.jpg. The nono was photographed in the Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu.

Links to photographs & further information: There is a good photograph of Morinda umbellata on the www.rainforestpublishing.com.au website. The Bishop Museum Cook Islands biodiversity database has pages with photographs and information about Jasminum didymum: http://cookislands.bishopmuseum.org/species.asp?id=6286, and Morinda myrtifolia (formerly known as M. forsteri): http://cookislands.bishopmuseum.org/species.asp?id=6407.

Links to information and photographs about the New Zealand plants are on the page for tawhiwhi.

Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
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