Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Nau [Proto Nuclear Polynesian]



Coprosma foetidissima (Rubiaceae) and Gingidia montana [formerly Angelica montana] (Apiaceae)


This name is shared by two quite different plants - a four-metre high forest shrub, Coprosma foetidissima, and a 50cm herb, Gingidia montana. The coprosma links in quite nicely with several of the other plants belonging to the coffee family (Rubiaceae) which have inherited the Proto Nuclear Polynesian name *nau. Gingidia belongs to the same family as the angelicas (until recently its botanical name was Angelica montana), but its stout form and prominent leaflets probably helped someone decide to give it too the name nau. The qualifier piro can mean either stinking or simply aromatic. In the case of the Coprosma it has the former connotation as the plant emits a sulphurous odour if any part of it is even slightly bruised or crushed. Other than that it is quite an attractive tree. The Gingidia's aroma is considerably more pleasant.

Both plants occur naturally in the North Island south of Auckland. Despite its specific name, the Gingidia used to be relatively common from sealevel to above the treeline, but is now much less common because it apparently is very appealing to stock. The Coprosma is found both within and at the margins of forests. It is quite palatable to goats, but, according to a study of done in the Auckland Islands, not nearly as sought after by pigs.

Gingidia montana is known in Mäori only as naupiro. Coprosma foetidissima however has many Mäori names (only naupiro, however, seems to have been derived from one brought by the first Polynesian settlers). It shares the generic karamü, käramuramu, käkaramü with many other Coprosma species. The oderiferous qualities are incorporated in another set of names: hüpiro, hüipirau-ririki, pipiro and piro. The characteristic narrow leaves group it with some other Coprosmas and several botanically unrelated species under the names mikimiki and mingi.

We do not have an image of Coprosma foetidissima, as it is not yet growing in our garden. However if you click anywhere on this text, you can see an excellent photograph on the NZ Plant Conservation Network's web site.

Similarly, we do not have a plant or photograph of Gingidia montana. Click on this text to see the photographs on the NZ Plant Conservation Networt's web site.

PPN: *Nau (A name for certain prostrate or creeping plants with aromatic or medicinal properties)
PEP: *Nau Lepidium sp. (Brassicaceae)
Mäori Reflex: Nau (L. oleraceum)

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)

Note: Naupiro is a combination of nau with piro "oderiferous, stinking". Cf. also naupata.


Further information about both plants can be found on the NZ Plant Conservation Network's website; for Coprosma foetidissima go to : http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/vascular_plants/detail.asp?PlantID=1761;
for Gingidia montana go to: http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/vascular_plants/detail.asp?PlantID=2197



Hue flower

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