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Issued on: september 23 2004
Layout: COM-OPT
Polynesian common names: “ pua rata” (Society Islands), “heua” (Northern Marquesas Islands), “feua” (Southern Marquesas Islands), “kopapa” (Island of Rapa), “ rata” (Island of Raivavae)
The Metrosideros genus belongs to the Myrtaceae botanical family like the Malay apple tree “ahi’a Tahiti” (Syzygium malaccense), the Jambolan tree (Syzygium cumini), or the guava tree (Psidium guajava). Its scientific name comes from the Greek metra which means “heartwood”, and sideron meaning “iron”, alluding to its hard timber. It includes about 50 species in the Pacific region. Recent genetic studies have shown that the Metrosideros genus originates in New Zealand and that it is reported to have spread to the Hawaiian Islands via the Marquesas archipelago. Reportedly, their extremely resistant seeds have been carried from an island to another by high-altitude winds blowing across the Pacific from West to East. The Metrosideros collina species of French Polynesia is native in the Pacific. It is found in all the Society, Marquesas and Austral high volcanic islands but not in low-lying atolls and raised atolls. It can be found at low and middle elevation on dry and sunny hills as well as in wet mountain forests and on mountain ridges.
Metrosideros collina is one of the dominant trees of cloud forests and on peaks’ scrub-covered slopes where it is characterised by its small size and a stunted shape. Various endemic varieties have been distinguished in French Polynesia but Metrosideros collina varies very much in its shape. A small tree from 2 to 15 m in height, Metrosideros collina is easily recognisable by its opposite, though, round to oval, glabrous or pubescent small leaves and by its red, yellow or orange flowers. Rich in nectar, they attract many nectarivorous insects and birds that act as pollinators.

Polynesian common names: "aito mou’a" (Society Islands), "ataa" (Marquesas Islands). The Weinmannia genus belongs to the Cunoniaceae botanical family, formerly called Saxifragaceae. It includes about 190 species spread over South America, the West Indies, Madagascar, the Mascareignes Islands, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. Weinmannia are not found in the Hawaiian Islands. There are six endemic species in French Polynesia. Like the Metrosideros seeds, Weinmannia’s are said to be resistant to the cold, to desiccation, and sea water, and adapted to a dispersal by the winds, but may also be scattered by birds by hanging on their feathers. Such characteristics may explain why the Weinmannia have been so successful in spreading over the Pacific Islands. The Weinmannia endemic species in French Polynesia are characteristic of high elevation wet mountain forests also called cloud forests due to the persistent cloudy ring during the day, generally located above altitudes of 400 to 600 m according to wind exposure. In Tahiti, the W. parviflora var. parviflora species is the dominant tree found in cloud forests. A small tree from 2 to 10 m in height, Weinmannia parviflora is recognisable by its opposite, oval leaves with a crenate margin, and small erected inflorescences made up of very small white flowers (hence its Latin name: parviflora).
©Jean-Yves MEYER, Delegation for Research
Number of units: 40 Number of printings: 50000
Unit price: 1550 FCFP
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