Medusanthera vitiensis Seem.

First published in J. Bot. 2: 74 (1864)
This species is accepted
The native range of this species is Vanuatu, Fiji. It is a tree and grows primarily in the wet tropical biome.


Utteridge, T.M.A. Kew Bull (2011) 66: 49.

Type: Fiji, Eastern Division, Island of Ovalau, Bureta, [17°42'48"S, 178°45'55" E], J. Storck 877 (holotype K; isotypes BM, GH, L).
Morphology General Habit
Small tree 3 – 20 m
Morphology General Indumentum
Indumentum of simple appressed hairs, translucent, colourless to pale yellow, often tinged yellow-orange at the base, 0.05 – 0.3 mm long
Morphology Branches
Branches 1.5 – 3 mm in diameter, densely hairy when young, soon sparsely hairy then glabrous, drying pale olive-green
Morphology Leaves
Leaves on staminate plants: lamina chartaceous, ovate to oblong, 7 – 11 × 2.7 – 4 cm, apex attenuate to shortly acuminate, acumen 6.5 – 9 mm long, base rounded to obtuse-cuneate; ad- and abaxial lamina glabrous, lamina drying dull olive-green ad- and abaxially, midrib ± sulcate and glabrous adaxially, prominent and sparsely hairy or glabrous abaxially; secondary veins brochidodromus, enclosed by secondary arches, 12 – 15 pairs, glabrous, ± prominent ad- and abaxially; tertiary veins very weakly percurrent; petioles 6.5 – 11.5 mm long, densely hairy when young, soon glabrescent Leaves on fruiting plants as staminate except: elliptic, oblong or ± obovate, 8 – 14.9 × 3.4 – 6 cm; petioles 8.8 – 19 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Pistillate inflorescences as staminate inflorescences except primary axis elongating to 37 mm long in fruit Staminate inflorescences axillary, umbellate with ultimate branches terminating in a cyme or irregular cyme, primary axis 17 – 25.5 mm long, with 2 – 3 first order branches at the apex of the primary axis, branching to 3 orders, densely hairy; pedicels 0.5 – 1.5 mm long, hairs as the inflorescence branches
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Pistillate flowers as staminate flowers except petals 3.4 – 3.6 mm long; vestigial anthers 0.4 – 0.5 mm long; ovary 2.5 – 2.8 × 0.65 – 1 mm Staminate flowers pentamerous, calyx crateriform, 1 – 1.3 mm long, shallowly 5-lobed, glabrous; petals oblong, (2 –) 3.5 – 4 × 1.3 – 1.5 mm, glabrous, pale white to yellowish; stamens with anthers 0.75 – 1 mm long, filaments narrowly cylindrical, 1.9 – 2.5 mm long, densely hairy with linear, membranous hairs 2 – 2.5 mm long on the ad- and abaxial surface of the filaments immediately below the anthers; pistillode 1.5 × 1 mm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruits narrowly triangular, apex attenuate-acute, base truncate, glabrous; when dry putamen flattened becoming curved and somewhat beaked at the apex, 22 – 30 × (6.5 –) 8.5 – 10.7 mm and 3 – 9 mm thick (measurements include only drupe as appendage is not significant when dry), putamen with a central ridge running the length of the convex side of the fruit, with 0 – 4 smaller ridges on either side, pulviniform appendage oblong, 15.5 – 19 × 5.5 – 8 mm covering the centre of the concave surface; when fresh drupe green, pulviniform appendage fleshy, white (colours from Smith 5857).
Endemic to Fiji, found throughout the archipelago.
Primary and secondary lowland tropical forest; 50 – 1000 m.
This species is endemic to the Fijian islands and known from 24 collections from 20 localities; unfortunately most of these collections are historical, with the most recent being made in 1968 (Parham 16203). Using EOO is inappropriate for this species and the estimated maximum AOO of approx. 11,000 km2 (see M. howardii for details), suggests that a threat rating is not appropriate. For example, many of the collections (albeit historical) are from central areas of Viti Levu, which are still covered with areas of vegetation, and because of the number of localities (over the Vulnerable threshold of 10) a rating of Near Threatened (NT) is given here until more collecting is undertaken to see if the historical populations are still extant.
Duvu or nduvu (Viti Levu, fide Parham 16203); lere (Viti Levu, fide Smith 5280).
This species is distinguished by being often a large tree up to 20 m — the highest recorded in the genus, the strongly flexuous branches, the chartaceous usually oblong leaves, the  ±  sessile flowers on very short pedicels less than 1.5 mm long, and especially the narrowly triangular drupe, with an attenuate and somewhat beaked apex with a pulviniform appendage maturing white in the fresh fruit. Medusanthera vitiensis differs from M. howardii, the only other species of Medusanthera in Fiji, in the chartaceous leaves (coriaceous in M. howardii) and especially in the larger, narrowly triangular fruits 22 – 30 mm long (oblong to obovate, 13 – 15.6 mm long in M. howardii); further discussion of the distinct characters of M. howardii are given in the notes to that species. M. vitiensis is similar to M. samoensis, especially in regard to exhibiting sexual dimorphism, but differs from that species in the leaf size and petiole length and most markedly in the fruit size and shape and the colour of the fleshy appendage (see notes under M. samoensis).


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