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Tree to 15 m, dbh 0.6 m; branches stout. Leaves evergreen, simple, thick, leathery, 10–15 × 5–7 cm, elliptic to oblong, upper surface dark green and glossy, lower surface pale green and glabrous, six to eight secondary veins on each side of the midvein, margins entire, recurved, apex obtuse to acute; petiole stout, 0.5–1.5 cm long. Inflorescence thick, rigid, to 20 cm long. Monoecious; flowers hermaphrodite, greenish yellow, 0.4–0.5 cm across. Drupe orange, ellipsoidal to ovoid, 2.5–4 cm long; produced in abundance, creating an unpleasant odour when rotting. Flowering September to December, fruiting February to April (New Zealand). Allan 1961, Andrews 1986. Distribution NEW ZEALAND: North Is. (common), South Is. (rare), Kermadec Is., Chatham Is. Habitat Coastal and lowland forest. USDA Hardiness Zone 9–10. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Andrews 1986; NT276. Cross-reference K379.
A fine broadleaved evergreen tree in New Zealand, Corynocarpus laevigatus has been established in California for some time and is now being cultivated in Cornwall. Here it thrives only in the westernmost gardens near Penzance; at Tregrehan it survives but is not ‘comfy’ (T. Hudson, pers. comm. 2006). In addition to its broad glossy leaves (handsomely variegated in several cultivars) it bears heavy crops of orange fruits, that are quite ornamental while on the tree, but stink as they rot after falling. These fruits were formerly extremely valuable to the Maori, who ate the flesh raw, and carefully processed the poisonous seeds to remove toxins before cooking and eating them as a staple (Metcalf 2000, Salmon 1996). It should be grown in a very sheltered site, with moist fertile soil.