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Mida salicifolia

Mida salicifolia

...and we're back. Sorry for the gap of a few days, it took us a while to sort out some of the issues in the set-up of the software behind the scenes. I hope it's all resolved now, and the biggest issue of photographs not loading should finally be fixed.

Claire wrote today's entry (thanks again, Claire):

A change from flowers for today. Tony Foster (Tonyfoster@Flickr) from Kaeo, New Zealand, provided this photograph (via the BPotD Flickr Pool) of fruit of the small tree, Mida salicifolia. Much appreciated Tony!

A native to the North Island of New Zealand, Mida salicifolia of the Santalaceae is a small tree found in mixed podocarp forests. The Santalaceae contains 44 genera and 990 species and is broadly distributed throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world.

A hemi-parasite like other members of its family, Mida salicifolia parasitizes through its roots, where it steals some nutrients from its host (often the kauri tree, Agathis australis). However, the species is also capable of photosynthesizing and living independently. A well-known example of another hemi-parasitic species in the family is mistletoe.

Maire taiki is the Māori name for Mida salicifolia, but there are several other species of native New Zealand trees bearing the name maire such as maire hau (Leionema nudum)and maire tawake (Syzgium maire). The Māori Dictionary has additional matches for maire. English common names include New Zealand sandalwood and willow-leaved maire.

The leaves of Mida salicifolia are lance-like (salicifolia = "leaves of a willow") and glossy. Its flowers (see photos on link) are quite diminutive in comparison to the size and appearance of the bright red berries (7-12 x 6-8 mm). Often this species is confused at a glance with small trees of Nestegis species (common names also being maire), but can be easily distinguished by looking at the leaf arrangement: Mida salicifolia has alternate leaves while Nestegis spp. have opposite leaves. Additional photographs of the flowers and vegetative parts of Mida salicifolia (and another member of the family, Korthalsella salicornioides can be found on the University of Auckland, Biological Sciences website: Santalaceae.

The New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (also linked above) states that Mida salicifolia is in decline in areas where browsing occurs from introduced mammal species such as goat, possum, and deer. However, it is relatively widespread, and remains particularly abundant on possum-free islands.


Beautiful fruit picture. Thanks

I am enjoying the botany photos and in depth descriptions. Would it be possible to put the English translations in parentheses right after the Latin words for the plant names? I'd love to have that knowledge right off in the title!

Anne -- not sure how I feel about that. I agree it would be handy, but the more things that must be tracked down and added each day means the greater the hurdle to get the BPotD done. Tracking down the author of the species name is usually relatively easy, but sometimes can take a while. Finding the meaning of those names is sometimes easy, but sometimes near-impossible ("what does that name mean?" occurs about 3 or 4 times a year at the garden involving 2-3 staff members -- and isn't always resolved). Also, it removes something we can insert in the written accompaniment to the photograph.

I like the way pink is running from the fruit to the stem, and it looks like a caterpillar enjoyed the leaves.

I wonder if these fruit are edible. An Australian species of this family, Santalum acuminatum, also has red berries and a rugose stone inside. It is known as "Sweet quandong" and make delicious jams and pie fillings.

nice to have you back daniel -Kia -ora -i just learned the greeting
from following links also signed up for the newsletter from the doc
in new zealand always interesting around here

a person can put the translation in the search bar find it
then click and come back to this page or print out translate
whenever a person has free time or or in the favories list

the picture is so clear and sharp thank you clarie tony and daniel

Nice to have feedback on the photo.
I took this photo to show the plants morphological features and the terms botanists use in describing these features.
The fruit shape is turbinate that is Top shaped or obconical (L. turbinatus: cone shaped, conical from turba: disorder)
At the apex of the fruit is a scar. The scar is formed from the remnants of the receptacle.
Only after having a closer look did I notice the way the pink runs from the fruit and along the pedicel.
In the wild the fruits colour is just as striking. The clearness and sharpness of the photo is due to New Zealand's naturally saturated light. The air is very clear here.
I also like that a browser has eaten the leaf, as this brings a natural feel and interest.
I am not aware of people consuming the fruits. New Zealand does not have a big culture of "Bushtucker", except for survival mode. New Zealand had no mammals for 100 million years until people introduced them. So fruit dispersal in many species is adapted to bird dispersal. The introduced rats etc, eat the fruits depriving the birds.Introduced Possums eat the foliage.

Check out more of my botanical photography explained at

For Anne & Daniel
I agree looking for exact common names can be pretty time consuming (part of my job at the MTL botanical garden) especially if you want to be accurate. Here's a little trick that can help you Anne if you don't have all the botanical references available. It will at least help you narrow down a few possibilities. In google, type the latin name between quotation marks and type next to it: common name
Ex : "Mida salicifolia" common name
You should get a few cues.
Good luck!

Also for the meaning of latin plant names Google Translate is starting to translate latin to english, its REALLY basic so far but lets hope it will be upgraded in the next few years.
There's also this website on botanical epithets http://www.winternet.com/~chuckg/dictionary.html but I'm not certain of its accuracy.

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