From Common Forest Trees of Hawaii

Kolea Lau Nui
Myrsine lessertiana
Primrose family (Primulaceae)

Native species ()

Two common and widely distributed species ( lessertiana and sandwicensis) will serve as examples of the Myrsine, of small to medium-sized native trees in which as many as 20 Hawaiian species have been distinguished. In this the leaves generally are many, crowded, narrowly elliptical or lance-shaped and broadest beyond middle, tapering to base and short leafstalk, with -dots visible under a hand lens; many small short-stalked greenish five-parted flowers crowded along twig back of leaves; and many small round, blackish single-seeded (berries).

©2013 Eric White
This species is characterized by larger leaves than others. It is a small or medium-sized tree to 60 ft (18 ) tall and 1–2 ft (0.3–0.6 ) in trunk diameter. Bark light gray, smooth to finely fissured, thick. Inner bark with brown outer layer, pink or red with brown streaks, bitter. Twigs are mostly stout, hairless, green when young, turning gray and becoming warty, with raised half-round leaf-scars, ending in narrow pointed buds of young leaves.

Leaves many, but crowded, hairless, narrowly elliptical, 3 1⁄4–5 1⁄2 inches (8–14 ) long and 1–1 1⁄2 inches (2.5–4 ) wide, slightly thick and leathery or slightly fleshy, blunt to rounded or pointed, base short- to long-pointed, pink when young, tapering at base to short winged greenish or pinkish leafstalk of 1⁄4 inch (6 ) or almost stalkless, upper surface slightly shiny green with inconspicuous veins, lower surface dull light green with many blackish -dots visible under a lens.

Flowers are many, small, about 1⁄8 inch (3 ) long and broad, in groups of 3–7 on short slender stalks of 1⁄4 inch (6 ) along twigs and short spurs back of leaves and at base of oldest leaves. light green, of five pointed of five elliptical yellowish with red dots; five short stalkless attached on and and with conical and almost stalkless

(berries) are round or elliptical, about 1⁄4 inch (6 ) in diameter, turning from green to reddish or black, with at base and pointed at Seed single, round.

The wood is pinkish yellow with prominent reddish brown providing a prominent figure on all surfaces. It is moderately hard, easily worked and polished, and suitable for cabinet work but not used at present. Used by the Hawaiians as timber for houses and anvils on which to beat tapa. A black dye for tapa was made from the charcoal.

This very variable species is widespread through the islands, especially in wet forests and open areas at 700–4000 ft (213–1219 ) altitude.

Special areas
Haleakala, Volcanoes, Kipuka Puaulu

Height 67 ft (20.4 ), c.b.h. 6.8 ft (20.7 ), spread 25 ft (7.6 ). Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii (1968).

Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii only

Other common name

Myrsine meziana (Levl.) Wilbur, Suttonia lessertiana (A. DC.) Mez, Rapanea lessertiana (A. DC.) Deg. & Hosaka

Rock noted that this species is one of the most variable in the and that two trees are hardly alike. He reported that red sap exudes from cut trunks and formerly served for dyeing tapa or bark cloth.

An evergreen tree retains a large portion of its green leaves all year.

mm -- millimeter. About 1/25th of an inch.

corolla -- The name for all the petals of a flower taken together.

synonym -- In botany a synonym is a species name that at one time was thought to be the correct name for a plant but was later found to be incorrect and has been replaced by a new name.

cm -- A centimeter which is about 0.4 inches.

In an opposite leaf arrangement the leaves come in pairs with one leaf on each side of a stem.

The apex is the tip or the furthest point from the attachment.

alternate -- leaves alternate along the main stem and are attached singly.

m -- A meter is about 10% larger than a yard.

Glands are plant structures that secrete liquids, salts or other substances. Glands often appear as hairs with a drop of liquid at the end.

calyx -- the sepals of a flower, typically forming a whorl that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a flower in bud.

fruit -- any seed-bearing structure in flowering plants. It is formed from the ovary after flowering.

stamen -- the pollen-producing reproductive organ of a flower; The stamen consists of an anther supported by a filament.

lobe -- Rounded parts of a leaf (or other organ). Lobes bulge out about 1/4 of the leaf diameter.

stigma - The tip of a pistil that receives the pollen.

An ovary is a part of the female reproductive organ of the flower. Above the ovary is the style and the stigma, which is where the pollen lands and germinates to grow down through the style to the ovary.

genus -- A subdivision of a botanical Family in which all members have a significant number of similar characteristics.

A pistil is the female structure of many flowers. It contains one or more carpels. Each carpel contins an ovary, style and stigma. The stigma receives the pollen which grows thru the style to reach the ovary.

endemic -- when restricted to a certain country or area.

ray flowers -- The outer petals of a sunflower or daisy are ray flowers.