Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Nau [Proto Nuclear Polynesian, probably a generic name for certain creeping or prostrate plants]



Lepidium oleraceum (Brassicaceae)

Related inherited names: Naupiro, Naupata (see separate pages)


Throughout Eastern Polynesia, except for Easter Island the word nau denotes a member of the genus Lepidium, plants known in English as "pepperworts", with medicinal properties and a fragrant or pundent smell. DNA analysis of the Hawaiian species indicated a Californian origin, but they have been growing in Hawaii for at least 350,000 years, so clearly it was not people who distributed them into the Pacific. The New Zealand species was once common but is now rarely encountered.

We do not currently have it growing in Te Mära Reo (October 2009).

Further information about the NZ species can be found by following the links below, and about the name and other plants which share it on the page for the Proto Nuclear Polynesian source word (link at the top of this page).



Lepidium olearceum

Nau (Lepidium oleraceum)

PNP: *Nau Generic term for certain prostrate or creeping plants
Mäori Reflex: Nau (Lepidium oleraceum [Brassicaceae])

Samoan: Nau (Alyxia stellata [Apocynaceae]); Naunau (Geophila herbacea [Rubiaceae])
Rapanui: Naunau (Santalum sp. [Santalaceae])
Tahitian: Nau (Lepidium sp. [Brassicaceae])
Hawaiian: Naunau (L. bidentatum)
Tuamotuan: Nau (L. piscidium)
Rarotongan: Nau (L. bidentatum)





Source of photograph: NZ Department of Conservation database
More photographs (some subject to copyright) can be found on the NZ Plant Conservation Network's website: http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/nz_threatenedplants/detail.asp?PlantID=74.



Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License.