Volume 50 1941 > Memoirs > No. 16 Fiji plants: their names and uses, by H. B. Richenda Parham, p 81-144
MEMOIR No. 16
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society.
FIJI PLANTS THEIR NAMES AND USES
INSTALMENT No. 6
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The name of this tree tarawau-ni-coqe means “tarawa of the barking pigeon.” It has medicinal properties, and Fijians consider that it is a cure for most aches and pains. One old native, wise in such things, explained thus how it was used by his matigali (tribe). “The leaves must be chopped up very small, and then put into a bulomakou (bully-beef) tin—if no bulomakou tin, a salmon tin can be used,” he added ingenuously, “add only a little water, put it on the fire and boil. Drink this, and all the pains in head, arms, legs or body, will go!”
Common in forest in dry zone. This Fijian name is given also to the following tree.
Very similar to the tarawau—but the fruit is said to be the favourite food of a small native parrot—hence its distinctive name in the vernacular, as kaka means parrot.
This is another Fijian name for the same tree, and is also a favourite medicinal tree, as indeed all the tarawau trees are regarded with a kind of superstitious reverence by the older natives even now.
Red and yellow berries. A small tree, flowering in October, grows on the edge of the bush proper.
Found in the Makadre (gum) forests of Colo West.
One of the Phyllodineous. See kataqua.
A common herbaceous plant on the sides of roads and in waste places. In Viti Levu and Somosomo Taveuni, often used as a pot-herb. There is a larger species of this plant, which has yellow, purple, and rose-coloured flowers.- 82
This plant is common on roadsides and other uncultivated patches, though more at home near the sea. The blossoms are either yellow, purple or rose-coloured. The thick fleshy leaves are not unlike those of stonecrop—and are often used as greens in the absence of more palatable vegetables, even by Europeans, who say it is not a bad substitute for spinach. It is called aturi, in Tahiti, and is also known in Fiji as cokamana. It is an airplant, and has medicinal uses.
A yellow flower growing in Colo West. Called also kauniyalewa. This shrub is said to make a very good wind-screen.
A tree with good perfume, not unlike yasi. The bark very sweet.
A beautiful Fijian lily, grows in damp places, flat land, often under ivi trees. Also called viavia, which see.
Cassava. Freely cultivated.
Tavivi means “the climber.”
It is quite probable that this plant has been introduced, as the name seems extremely like our “tobacco.” Seemann thought it might have been brought by the Manila men, since “Spaniards were the first whites who visited these islands.” Fijians prefer their own home-made cigarettes to smoking a pipe.
This plant was cultivated in small patches in early days by the natives. This name was evidently adapted from early traders, whose tobacco was appreciated by the Fijians. It is not, how-- 83
ever, a wild plant, but has been cultivated throughout the islands for many years. At first it was only used by men. Indeed long before 1800, the tobacco-plant was a luxuriant weed, but its use for smoking was unknown. We gather, however, from old records, that it was, very sensibly used to lessen vermin and was called the
Refer to tivi and tavoli-lali.
The leaves of tavola are much esteemed by the natives, as a disphoretic, as well as for a cure for indigestion. It is also called the na-tivi in Bua Province, where its beautiful red leafage is at certain seasons to be seen. There is a native saying that when the na-tivi leaves are red the coral of crab is good to eat; but then they say this of many of the red-flowering trees as well. This tree has an edible seed, which has been called the Fijian-almond, although Seemann rightly says, “it has only the shape and whiteness, but not the flavour, of the almond.” He adds, “the natives are very fond of the tavola as an ornamental tree, and frequently plant it near their houses and around their public bulidings.” It is of interest to note that lalis (native drums) are often made of the timber of the tavola—indeed its timber is said to make the best-sounding lalis.
For injuries to the eyes caused by either a stick or when pushing through gasau grass, the Fijian prescription is very simple, it is in-elegantly expressed thus: “Chew the leaf and spit it into the eye of the sufferer.” Tavolavo is also called yaro.
Much valued as a timber-tree, especially by the Fijians for making lalis, a species of drum, still in use in many places, as a call to Christian worship, or to send messages to a distance the sound of a lali when beaten was to be heard for miles. It is much esteemed for its medicinal qualities, the bark- 84
being the part preferred. The seeds are sometimes called Fiji almonds; they are edible, but have not much almond flavour. With the Fijians the tavola was admired on account of its horizontal branches, and the beautiful changing colours of its leaves. It is called the na tivi in Bua.
When native women go a-fishing they take very great care that nothing shall spoil their enterprise. Among other things they make use of various leaves—the tavotavo, the soni, and the meme-vudinayalewakalou. These leaves of these plants are more or less looked upon as able to work a charm on the fish. They may have some little stupefying quality, but when the fishing women throw these into the middle of their net, it is more in the nature of a mascot that they do this. It is an old custom and old customs cling. To make the charm more efficacious, the first fish caught must be thrown back again. Should the fishing be unsuccessful, they lay the blame on the fish and think a spirit is among them. In order to exercise it they all kick backwards with their feet in the water and trust in this being a counter charm. Also called tavolalo (see above).
A small fern growing among rocks.
Plant smells of menthol; has medicinal properties. Called also senikuila. Kuila means a “flag,” being the Fijian for a kind of pennant.
In many South Sea islands forms an important addition to food-products. The roots after preparation were roasted and eaten; a drink was also made therefrom which was an intoxicant. Under the name of masawe in Bua Province this plant is used medicinally. The roots are macerated as a cure for tooth-ache.
Another name for a species of banana, commonly called the China Banana.
A beautiful double variety of gardenia with a very sweet perfume. The flowers are delicate and drop off quickly.
These yams are wild and may be seen in the Vei Kau, they look very pretty, trailing in graceful festoons over shrubs and trees.- 85
The tikula is sometimes called the masawe by Fijians, and this is rather confusing as the Cordyline terminalis is also known by this name of masawe. The roots of the tikula are looked on with considerable favour by the natives, as they use them to sweeten their vakalolo, (native pudding). Indeed all the native cordylines have a sweetish juice, which has been compared to that of stick-liquorice. On this account the natives love to chew them. The tikula is often called the red-cordyline, and is largely cultivated in gardens on account of its very ornamental appearance. The flowers grow in a graceful raceme, and are perfumed at night.
Sometimes smooth-skinned, at others hairy. Called eaea in Tahiti.
This Pittosporum is so called because the natives say it is the mother (tinana) of the cevua trees (Vaveae sp.).
A kind of mangrove. Possibly its native name refers to the way it grows, for tabua means “collar-bone,” and tiri is the mangrove, vide Hazelwood's 1850 edition of F. Dictionary, for this original meaning of tabua.
Same as mokamoka.
This tree is sometimes called both tavola and nativi, but as its seeds are inferior, it is more likely that the T. Catappa is the kind used medicinally.
A rather small tree. Usually known as the tavola or tivi.
This yam has a prickly stem and climbs very high. The roots are long and cylindrical, as thick as a man's arm.- 86
This tree is often 60 feet high. In contradistinction from the T. Catappa—the branches are crooked and irregularly scattered round the stem. The wood is used for building. It is commonly found on sea-beaches, but does not do well inland. The seeds are sometimes eaten by Fijian children, but they are not such a good quality as those of the T. Catappa. Tiwa is also known as tivi or tavola.
White flowers with an edible bean. Found in Colo West Province in the vei Kau (bush) of Koronisau district, and planted by the Fijians there for food. Also known as nawakore-kore. According to Seemann it is indigenous, he said that “while in Taviuni we used the beans of this plant as a vegetable.” He gives dralawa as its Fijian name.
A flowering vine mostly found near the sea. It is one of the plants that mark the agricultural calendar, for it flowers in June.
Found on sea-beach at Taviuni—has many other names, e.g., wa-ia which see.
This is a very free-growing, beautiful convolvulus; the flowers are a delightful shade of mauve and when this ipomeae takes charge of a wire-fence or even trees it is a sight to remember. Said to have medicinal uses, teste a Nadroga native.
This tree grows in Vanua Levu. It is about 12 feet high, leaves are egg-shaped or oblong, corolla urn-shaped, the petals are fleshy, the three outer ones lanceolate; seeds dark brown. Similar to a Malayan species.
Large tree in Colo West. Timber strong, used for house posts.
Also listed as Maniltoa grandiflora (A. Gray). Same as yamo, which see.- 87
Colo West and Nadroga name. Also known as koka by the natives.
Nadroga name for dogo and tiri. Bulletin No. 10.
Epiphytic, often seen high up on forest trees. The flowers are chrome-yellow in colour. It is a very charming species. There are two varieties of this beautiful orchid, the larger is best known, the other has more green admixt with the yellow in the petals and labellium.
A small tree, the young leaves and branches are covered with soft down or hairs; the leaves are in threes, for the most part are oblong oval, with a blunt apex, but occasionally are found with acute apex. The upper parts of the leaves is glabrous, whereas the under parts are downy, with strongly marked veining. The flowers, in umbels, are cream; the calyx is silky with acute lobes. It is known also as the Hedysarum umbellatum (Linn). Is commonly seen on the sea-beaches in Fiji and other islands, and it is known as the sausautave in Nadroga.
This species of Phychotria has white flowers, and red berries; it is reputed to be a valuable medicinal plant.
A shrub which bears a fairly acidulated fruit—of a pretty yellow-apricot colour. It is also called somisomi.
Vanua Levu. A slender shrub. This species of Ixora grows in Vanua Levu, in dense thickets and on the sides of hills as high even as three or four thousand feet; but it also thrives in lower altitudes.
A very aromatic herb. The flowers are of a pale-purple hue, and much used by the natives for coughs and colds. Sometimes called Ruellia triflora.- 88
A white tubular flower seated in a four-sepaled calyx-cup. Leaves obviate-acute (both at base and apex) venation on under leaf well defined. Regarded as a good wai-ni-mate (medicine) by the Fijians.
It is quite probable that this plant has been introduced, as the name seems extremely like our “tobacco.” Seemann thought it might have been brought by the Manila men, since Spaniards were the first whites who visited these islands. Fijians prefer their own home-made saluka cigarettes to smoking a pipe. See also tavoke and tavoko. Long before 1800 the tobacco plant was a luxuriant weed. Its use for smoking was unknown, but we gather from old records that it was very sensibly used to lessen vermin, and was called “the destroyer of lice.” During the reign of Naulivou, tobacco was used for smoking and the Fijian meke-maker composed, but did not write, the “Song of the Tobacco,” tavakoe being its name at that time, evidently taken from our tobacco.
Flowers small, purplish, sometimes red and green, in terminal spikes.
Name for lauci in Nadroga. This interesting tree is also known under the names of sekeci, tuitui, and qeroqero, and of course is known to Europeans as the candle-nut tree.
Name by which the castor-oil plant is known in Colo West. According to a very old book: “The Ricinus was first cultivated in England in the time of Turner (1562), and is now annually reared in many gardens in the neighbourhood of London, and that of Dr. Saunders at Highbury, grew to a state of great perfection. From the number of seeds which the Doctor has lately procured from different parts of the globe, and his scientific and solicious care in their cultivation, we are induced to hope that Medical Botany, under such auspices will eventually receive considerable illustration.- 89
Also totodro. Leaves used as a tonic and blood-purifier, also taken for indigestion, nervousness, and dysentry, especially in India, where it is called hien-gotu-kola.
Same as tadiri, which see.
A tree about twenty feet high. The gum that exudes from this tree was used to caulk canoes in early days, also to glue pieces of native masi together.
Properly speaking this species of reed belongs to the widely distributed sedge-family. It grows in marshy places or near water.
White daisy-like flower, corolla lingulate; an erect herb. It is useful for hasty torch-making.
Scented wood—excellent for fires. Used for fence-posts, etc.
The totodra has leaves very like those of the violet, and very small pinkish flowers. It is esteemed by Fijians, as they say the leaves cure neuralgia. They boil these and drink the water, and apply the warm leaves as a poultice. Totodra leaves are also said to cure diarrhoea—but for that fell disease, they add those of the dawa-sere. Besides being made use of for toothache, the “tea” from the leaves takes the place of a tonic, in both the Bua and Nadroga provinces. In the latter case it is customary to add the juice extracted from bulibulisewaro (Hoya bicarinata). Should a Fijian get a fish-bone in his throat, totodra tea will dislodge it! For headache, too, the leaves are chewed; and a cold-water decoction is made with which to wash both nostrils and ears. In India the Hydrocotyle asiatica is known as the hien-gotukola, and its leaves are used as a tonic and blood purifier, and are also taken for indigestion, nervousness, and dysentry.- 90
Found in the bush near creeks. Flowers like tiny white stars, berries bright crimson. The leaves are very similar to those of the totodra, but the flowers are not like.
Also called totoyava. Totolu means to ooze water. The distinctive botanical name atoto is taken from the Tahitian atoto. This species is common on the sea-beaches of most Fijian islands. The leaves are smooth and the inflorescence in cymes.
Rattan. Sometimes called na-tui. It is a Calamus, and is a very sturdy plant, climbing to the tops of the highest trees. Its leaves are divided into leaflets like those of palms, and these end in spiny tendrils, which can take a good hold. The mid-ribs and veins have recurved spines which also assist its ascent. This species of Calamus seems well adapted for the making of baskets, etc. The stems can easily be divested of the leaf-sheaths, by steeping in water for a time and then putting them in strong sunshine.
A native moss, which is very similar to that gathered in Westland, New Zealand, during the last war, for use for pads, when bandaging with splints. Possibly this species might be used in a similar way in Red Cross work now as it is soft enough and Fijians stuff pillows with it.
Maesa persicaefolia according to Dr. Merrill. Often called also the draunimalaka or the draubabasaga. These are small trees, and are often met with, they have speckled bark, hence the native name.
Small ratten, found in bush, where soil is good. Qalo means in Fijian “to swim on,” being used to qualify tui (ratten) it signifies the kind of ratten in favour for the making of hasty rafts, when a sudden floow in the river makes a raft necessary. Probably introduced from India where this kind of ratten is much used for wicker-work, seats of chairs, walking sticks, withes, and thongs. The Calamus genus grow without branches and are cylindrical, jointed, tough, and strong.- 91
Nuts have good oil. Commonly called candle-nut. It has also the native names of lauci, sekeci, etc. It is interesting to notice that in Makatea (French Oceania) this tree is known also by the name of tuitui. The natives of that island sometimes call it tiairi, and they use the bark to dye their nets dark brown.
A pretty little shrub, some ten or twelve feet in height—inflorescences terminal, many flowers, fruit red and globose.
Same as somisomi and tomitomi. Has fruit of an agreeable tartness.
This is valued for its medicinal properties. Sometimes called mavuka, buka, or colulu.
This fern is widely eaten by natives, common westward to Asia. Is sometimes called A. vitiensis. Grows best in wet places. Stipes black at base, hence its Fijian name (so contracted from loa, which means black).
This is another instance of the Fijian habit of duplicating plant (or fern) names.
Another name for duruka. The flower of this species makes a good vegetable, or pickle.
This plant is described under the name of tuvoleiqoqo.
The common blue rat-tail—now accounted as a plant-pest. Commonly known as the co-masi.
Another name for the candle-nut—see sekeci and lauci.- 92
Already described under the Fijian name of duva. It is said that this plant has therapeutic qualities, and that the leaves, well chewed, or the juice otherwise extracted, and applied to wounds, take the place of iodine and will cure both coral-cuts and the wounds made by a rusty nail, fishbone, scratches, etc., as well as other troubles, and with as good results.
This small tree is also known as the qoliqoli, and like the duva it is used in stupefying fish.
Often found near the sea in Fiji. It is one of the shrubs used by natives to stupefy fish.
Probably a new species, according to Kew. Flowers white. Grows as a shrub or bush. Is of medicinal value, if Fijian women can be relied on, and those who really know these maramas are quite willing to believe they do know, these simple, herbal remedies of their Vei Kau (bush).
A ground-orchid with small flowers. It has adventitious roots, and is therefore easily reproduced.
The uci flowers have a very penetrating perfume. While this does not generally appeal to Europeans, the Fijians are passionately fond of the smell, which is of an abiding nature. They weave the racemed blossoms into salus and also use it to scent the coconut-oil which they use so extensively on their person. This plant is also known as sacasaca.
Called also dredre (laughing-water). The Kai-Viti esteem it, as they think the leaves have properties which will thicken their hair. Has pretty, small leafage, and white flowers. Uciniraurau is the name this plant is known by in Bua Province.- 93
The bush of this name grows in Nadroga, it is about five or six feet in height with small four-lobed flowers, and according to the old Fijians, is a sure cure for headache and stomach-ache. They recommend that some leaves and pieces of the bark should be crushed and pounded well, then boiled in sea-water and taken internally, as a wainimate (medicine).
Another name for the “holy fern,” wa-kalou.
These are some of the names used in the Bua Province. The calyx, corolla, etc., are mauve and white. Olalo, is also used in some places. The children add the scented fruits to their garlands.
The Uragogo lageniformis is sometimes listed as Calycosia petiolata. It is a small tree, when young the flowers, etc., are hirsute, later on the twigs, etc, become glabrous. Leaves about 1½ inches long with arcuate nerves. Corolla white. Fruit reddish. gogo means weak.
A handsome fern with black stipes—grows well under trees, in fairly open bush. Also called otaloa.
The physic-nut was introduced from the Tongan islands, but is now much grown in the Sigatoka district, where it has been extensively used as living hedges. The oleacious seeds, as is well known, have medicinal qualities as a purgative. It is often listed by botanists as Curcas purgans.
Bread-fruit and its various kinds. The name uto has evidently reference to the shape of the fruit, somewhat heart-shaped. There are many varieties of breadfruit, and these vary considerably in shape of leaves, flavour of the fruit, and its size and form.- 94
Somosomo and Ovalau. Fruit small but good; indeed the natives consider it to be a very good variety of breadfruit; known by the leaves, which are smooth.
This was evidently an early variety, and grew in Rewa and Ovalau. The fruit is obovate, but seedless.
May be the same as uto-buco, and the bucudo of Wilkes' narrative, though he spells it umbuda.
Sometimes called uto-kogo; also uqo and qoqo. This variety of breadfruit is large and seedless, with a smooth surface; the leaves have a peculiar appearance as if covered with small blisters. This species is well known all over the group.
Possibly hastily written for uto-bucudo.
This is a common kind and has pinnafied leaves, and when fully ripe is free of prickles, it is larger than the uto dina. It may be the variety called Uto pinnatifida, which originated in Tahiti—where there are so many sorts and interesting legends concerning the origin of the breadfruit.
Called from some fancied likeness to uvi in flavour. Uto-buco-uvi (,i.e., yam-like).
Also uto-lolo, uto-dogo dogo and uto-dra-cobo.
This fern is very commonly found in the bush, and is distinguishable on account of the blackness of its stems. Probably another name for the ota loa. The young fronds are eaten by the natives.
A Somosomo variety, and quite seedless. Also called waisea, utocokocoko, a Rewa variety, also seedless. Uto-dogo-dogo, seedless; uto-dra-cobo, also seedless. All the four last named have entire leaves, that is without lobes or indentations, except when quite young, when some of them are slightly indented.- 95
Also called uto-sasaloa, uto-vakasorena and uto-sore.
Name given from some rather obtuse idea that the “eye” of the fruit looks different of that of other breadfruit.
Probably named qio, because of the roughness of the skin, like that of a shark.
From Namara. The leaves being bullate gives the tree a sickly look.
Also uto-maliva, uto-vakasorena and uto-sore. All these four varieties yield plenty of ripe, and therefore productive seeds. For this reason, it seems probable that they may represent the parent stock.
Dina, of course, signifies true, and this variety was for a long time considered to be the original Fiji-grown breadfruit.
Also called uto-lolo, uto-cokocoko and uto-dogodogo, which see.
Probably the same as uto-cokocoko. This variety seemed to be in favour for lining food baskets.
Also called uto-lolo, uto-cokocoko, and uto-dracobo.
Of course this name had reference to the gummy milk from stem.
A Rewa name. Oblong fruit. Also called uto-sawesawe.
This fern is very commonly found in the bush, and is distinguishable on account of the blackness of its stems. The young fronds are eaten by the natives.
Also called uto-kalasai. Straights of Somosomo. Oblong fruit.- 96
Also uto-maliva, uto-sasaloa and uto-vakasorena. Sorena means a seed.
Probably the same as uto-buco.
Also called uto-maliva, uto-sasaloa, and uto-sore, which see.
These are the Bau and Rewa name for a seedless species with a roundish fruit, and rough surface to leaves.
Very long leaves, fruit also large. From Somosomo. Very likely the name vono is from some fancied resemblance in the leaf to a turtle's shell, vono meaning turtle.
Whereas the uto-votavota has no seeds. It is covered with prickles, and the fruit is oblong.
According to Seemann: “Tahiti, indeed the whole Society Islands, seem to be the place where the greatest number of varieties (of breadfruit) are to be found, Solander rating twenty-one, and G. Bennett (Gatherings of a Naturalist, p. 396), even as many as twenty-four, all of which bear distinctive names. Tahitian traditions hint at a time when the tree did not exist in the Society Islands—at least that I suppose to be implied in the following, which I take in substance from Ellis's Polynesian Researches.
“In the reign of a certain king, when the people eat red earth, a man had an only son, whom he loved tenderly. One day he said to the wife, ‘I pity our son; he is weak and unable to eat the red earth. I will die, and become food for him.’ The wife asked, ‘How will you become food?’ He answered, ‘I will pray to my god; he has power, and will enable me to do it.’ Accordingly he repaired to the family marae (temple) and presented his petition to the deity. A favourable answer having been given to his prayer, he called his wife and said, ‘When I am dead take my body; plant my head in one place, my heart and stomach in another, etc., and then wait in the house. When you shall hear at first a sound like that of a leaf, then of a flower, afterwards of an unripe fruit, and last of a ripe round fruit falling on the ground, know that it is I who have become food for our son.’ He died soon after, and his wife obeyed his- i
MEMOIR No. 16
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society.
FIJI PLANTS THEIR NAMES AND USES
INSTALMENT No. 7
- ii Page is blank- 97
injunctions. After a while, she heard a leaf fall; then the large scale of the flowers; then a small unripe, and afterwards one full-grown and ripe fruit. By this time it was daylight; she awoke her son, and took him out. They beheld a large and handsome tree, clothed with broad shining leaves, and loaded with breadfruit. She directed him to gather a number, take the first to the family god and to the king; to eat no more red earth, but to roast and eat the fruit of the tree growing before them.”
In this connection it is interesting to remember that the Fijian word uto means heart, and uto is what the breadfruit is usually called.
See vetao. This is a tall tree sometimes called the Garcinia Magostana. Leaves of the young plants often 9 to 12 inches long, and 6 inches broad, but the leaves as the tree grows larger, are smaller, as in so many shrubs and trees. Flowers are small, their buds not much bigger than peas—but when fully open are fully half an inch diameter. In the E. Indies these trees are called woondy, and poonay. Sometimes suringu and gordeoody. The buds are used as a dye (yellow and orange) then called nag-kassar or nagesar. They are sweet-scented and might be used in perfumery. The Fijians use the sap to dye their hair red or orange. The wood of this tree is close grained and a useful timber.
This is the name in Colo West of a fern that grows in many places. It has pinnatified fronds. It is often found growing near tree-trunks. But both Blechnum and Lomaria species go also by this Fiji name; all ferns being more or less medicinal or edible may account for this.
The Fijians give the same name in the vernacular to many differing species. In Nadroga it is the Dryopteris which is called both uvihabitu and digi-waruwaru, and is in favour for supposed medicinal virtue.
Also called by Fijians yevuyevu and evuevu. In Tahiti, it is known as the tuniua. This interesting shrub-like tree is found commonly on all the sea-beaches, in the Fiji group.- 98
The many species of this order are all used as food, and have a great number of names, though generally referred to by the generis name of kaile. All these plants are said by the Fijians to be medicinal as well as edible—and as a sure cure for abscesses. The yam, as the uvi is called by settlers, is a particularly good root vegetable, whereas Samoans think most highly of breadfruit as a staple food, the Fijians are most in favour of the uvi, though taros, bananas, plantains, etc., all grow splendidly in their islands; in bygone years they fixed the months in their calendar by this favourite food. For instance June and July were their vula-i-werewere, or weeding months; August was for the digging of the yam gardens; September for putting reeds, or vitavita sticks for the yams to climb up, and so through the procession of the months until March—the vula-kelikeli when among the many species we may mention the kawai (D. aculeata) the tivoli (D. nummularia), the kaile-tokatolu (D. pentaphylla); and note also that since many species are acrid, the wise Fijian cook was wont to add scrapings from walai stems (Entada scandens) so as to improve the flavour, and lessen the acridity.
A red hibiscus, also called vaudra, growing very commonly in the group of islands. In Tahiti it is known as the purat-teruere, often found growing with H. Tiliacius.
Also balawa. Commonly called the “screw pine.” The Fijians make a tea of the leaves and drink freely as a remedy for diarrhoea.
The gourds from this plant were formerly extensively used as containers for coconut and other oil, in place of bottles before these were introduced. Another species of this order the Luffa insularum, has been often called luffa, as if that were the Fijian name; there is some doubt on that question. It is a climbing herbaceous plant, male flowers in racemes, female flowers single. The gourd-like fruit were also used as containers for scented coconut-oil. Though the Lagenaria vulgaris is perhaps better known as a bottle-gourd. The Fijian name vago in indiscriminately used for calabashes, on account of their being bottles for coconut-oil.
Pineapple. Sometimes found growing wild, but mostly cultivated with great success in Fiji.- 99
Also called vola, see rewa. Though a usually sea-shore variety it makes it home also among the trees that are so often found in Talasiga country (dry fern-land)—such as the Acacia Richii (a phyllodinous species) the sago-palm (Cycas circinalis) and Pandanus odoratissimus. The root is a powerful purgative.
See also vao, and vavakana. A small tree, milky juice throughout. Flowers in a syme; the drupes are ellipsoide. Sometimes termed Cerbera parviflora by Botanists. Seemann calls it vaoko.
See uvetao, above.
A beautiful tree, with pretty feathery foliage. The flowers are yellow and fragrant, and the seeds are very attractive, being red and shining. The native women thread them for necklaces, and sell them to tourists, with other seed-chains. This seed is larger than the diridiri, and is almost heart-shaped.
Commonly called the rain-tree—is a very good shade tree—and has attractive pink flowers. Probably introduced.
This is a shrub or small tree, with feathery leaves. It grows freely in the north of Viti Levu, at the back of mangrove swamps, and beside streams in the Sigatoka valley. In Vanua Levu found in mixed forest. At Ba it is regarded as a weed in the cane-fields. It yields excellent firewood.
The wood is used, and some say it is one of the most useful timbers in Fiji. There is a slight resemblance to the tamarind tree, which also grows and fruits well here.
Anti-mosquito shrub. A shrub literally proof against mosquitoes. There is also a bush which is said to attract mosquitoes and so free people from their undesirable attentions. This may be the same shrub—by proving attractive to mosquitoes it was fairly reasonable to expect that the native houses (bure) would be proportionately free from these pests of the night.- 100
A shrub. Not yet identified sufficiently to classify.
Also known under the name of votu. This grass is found growing under bread-fruit trees. Hazlewood gives the same name to a shrub, which is often purposely planted by the Fijians, with the idea (perhaps correct) that the breadfruit grow best in its company.
Same as wakiwaki. This variety grows on dry ground and is fairly common. The juice of the leaves is used by the native women for a special purpose.
This is one of the medicines that are used secretly by native women. They say a drink made of the leaves of the wakiwaki together with as equal number of leaves of the evu will cause sterility. They appear to believe also that, that if a decoction of the wakiwaki is drunk at a certain phase of the moon, it will be a preventive to conception. The juice also from the flowers of this same species they say will cause abortion.
This may interest medical men; but is not suitable for general reading, except in connection with the study of this special subject. The wakiwaki as well as the bovu (Mussaenda frondosa) ranks among the mystery-plants of Fiji, and as such came into evil repute in early days, the missionaries quite properly discouraged their use among their converts.
This is a most magnificent tree, and has been called by Parkins and others, Butonica splendida. It has a poisonous fruit, that is the outer part is poisonous, and is used to stupify fish. It likes the neighbourhood of the sea—their square seeds were used in a favourite game called veilegi-vutu. It is also known as vuturakaraka, which see.
Also called vaioko. Bush or small tree, called by many names by Fipians. Tubular corollas with five stamens, and ellipsodal drupes.- 101
Also varavara, in Vanua Levu. Name in Colo West varalevu. Both these are ground-orchids.
Onion. Introduced. The native name for the well-known onion of commerce.
This variety of Calanthe has a drooping habit. It is a pretty shade of pinkish-mauve. Common in the Bua Province. It is useful after an illness, as it has tonic properties.
The early stage of coconut-growth is called vara. When the nuts are opened, very frequently they contain a soft spongy substance known as vara. Varas are very nice fried with nut, or other butter; after being cut in thin slices make a good mock bacon with fried egg. They also make an excellent pudding when cooked properly. They should be first boiled in salted water, then strained and put in a pie-dish with milk and a little sugar; nutmeg grated on top and the pudding then baked in a quick oven.
This is what in N.Z. is known as the “canary whistle,” it gets the same generic name varavara from the natives here, that they give to species of Spathoglottis and Calanthe.
Refer to vavara.
There are many other varieties of varavara, and the Calanthe is by no means the only orchid, called by the natives varavara, for orchids of quite a different genus are called the same name by the Kai Viti.- 102
Vara-levu is the Colo name for Phajus Blumei. It is a very beautiful orchid with white outer petals, inside a brown shade of purple. The inside of the lip is yellow and purple. Found in the Navua, Namosi forests.
This is the name given in Koro Island to the voivoi and kiekie. The natives of this island weave this kind of Pandanus into mats. There are groves of the varawa in the interior, among the forest swamps.
Commonly found on the sea-front. Medicinal.
Also called rewa in the vernacular. This middle-sized tree has very soft wood. It is from forty to fifty feet in height; has terminal cymes of pretty tubed, white flowers, greatly admired for garlands. The leaves are long and narrow, the stems exhude milky fluid. From the bark and root a powerful purgative is obtained. There is some difference about the botanical name, lactoria is sometimes exchanged for that of odollum by modern authorities.
(To pinch or press—vasakinikini). This tree has an edible fruit, which as its native name implies, is somewhat soft and foamy.
Same as masawe, which see.
Has a tuberous root, firm green leaves, very erect stem and whitish flowers. The Kai Viti use this variety of cordyline for fences or hedges. Also called vaivai. This species grows wild in woods, and is often used for hedges and attains the height of from twelve to fourteen feet. It is good feed for goats and cattle.
This must not be confounded with the vasili-kau, for it is one of the Crotans, and therefore belongs to a different order.- 103
Vasili-qui, another of the Fijian names for Cordyline terminalis in the Sandwich Islands known as ki. Now known botanically as Taetsia, in place of Cordyline. A herbaceous shrub, sometimes called the Dracaena and which is considered a cure for toothache. Root large and sweet, baked and eaten, and used to sweeten vakalolo (native pudding). Same as the vasili-dina and masawe.
Same as masawe. Judging by its name this species may have been introduced from Tonga; also because it is rarely found in a wild state in Fiji. It is sometimes called masawe, and at other qui. The root is tuberous and very large, when baked on heated stones it tastes like stick-liquorice. The Fijians like to chew the masawe or use it to sweeten their puddings, but they did not know the Hawaiian method of making intoxicating drink from the root. There are both red- and white-flowered plants. It is often used to relieve toothache.
The Nadroga name for vativati.
Potato, which grows very well where the soil is sandy.
A handsome medicinal fern. Called also vasivasi, Bua Province. Also native name for Lycopodium sp. Colo West. Vativati sometimes known botanically as Polypodium diversifolium is used as a remedy for fever and soreness in the throat and lungs. The roots are pounded and chewed with the leaves or made as a cold-water decoction from the same. This is drunk and gargled, also sniffed up the nostrils.
Also name for a species of Polypodium.
Colo West. Same fern as vativati and vasivasi.
Has a very powerful perfume. Most probably has been introduced from other islands. It seems to be a species of patchouli.- 104
The natives use this herbaceous plant with kuila to scent their coconut oil. It grows freely in some districts. The inflorescence is a spike, but this plant rarely flowers.
The bark of this variety of hibiscus makes good ropes. Timber is of a greyish colour. The leaves are cordate.
This species grows commonly all over this group. Pritchard gave parau-teruore as the Tahitian name—the fibre could be used for cordage.
About Christmas time this pretty creeper has an abundance of pink flowers; these are in loose panicles, leaves almost orbicular, not quite feather-veined, but like the veining seen in other Antigone, what might be termed radiatingly-veined. As this belongs to the same family and order it is not surprising that there should be a likeness. vaudradra must not be confused with vaudra, which is the Hibiscus tricuspis. The first named grows freely near Na-muaimuai-koro (village) in Conua district, Colo West province. wainimate (medicine) used by Fijian women, though of questionable value.
A small tree, with graceful branches, and bearing red or yellow fruit. Found in Sigatoka River valley, said to be useful for cure or easement of lumbago. Called also drainisiga, which see.
Vaundrainisinga. Shrub. Has bright-coloured fruits, and is used medicinally by Fijians.
More usually spoken of daruka, turuka and dule. It is edible. Grows well in fairly moist ground. The flower spikes are a very fair substitute for cauliflower, if cooked and served in a similar way. It also makes a very good pickle.
Also known by saw-millers as bausomi (Burckella Thurstoni).- 105
This tree is probably the same as the bausomi, which see. Its timber is short in the grain, but dense and very durable, probably little inferior to buabua—it is, however, scarce and difficult to get out. A few planks of this wood have stood hard wear in King's wharf, Suva. Probably the same as vau-same.
The leaves of this species of hibiscus are often eaten as a potherb in the out-lying districts.
Cotton according to Mr. Hazlewood was in his time known by this name, which was also the Fijian name for a species of hibiscus.
This variety of cotton plant has yellow flowers, which later become blood red or intense pink.
This is the same as the kidney or Brazilian cotton of English markets.
Has almost become indigenous, but was introduced, probably more than a hundred years ago, and is now known as Fiji-cotton. This variety bings forth ripe cotton-bolls all the year round.
This plant has a variety of names, both in the vernacular and given by the settlers, who have known it elsewhere, e.g., bandikai, gombo, and ochro, West Indian names, and in Fiji it is often called bele. As it is very mucilaginous it makes a good addition to soup.
Name used in Bua for a pretty weed of red and yellow colour, seed in silky pappus.
Bush or small tree, called by many names in the Fijian (Vao and Vavaoa). Tubular corollas with five stamens, and ellipsoidal drupes.- 106
This small tree is known in Colo West by the name tarutaru—and in other parts is called uragogo, hence its botanical name. Its leaves are glabrous, and of considerable length. Flowers solitary.
A tall tree, with fluted bole and dark bark, pale-orange timber, when first cut.
Also vao, and vavakana.
This ground-orchid, which is also called senivaravara by the Fijians, is (according to L. O. Williams, Harvard University, Mass.) a species known only from Fiji. It has short roots, ample leaves, sesquipedale, and white flowers pedicels and bracts, the lip is divided in three sharply cut lobes.
L. O. Williams mentions another species, as Geododorum pictum. The Geododrum species are now sometimes listed as Cymbidium.
Another name for this beautiful orchid, which is sometimes called varu-levu and varavara-sa, under which name it is more fully described. Its sub-order is Epidendreae.
Nadroga name for vesi. Vehi is similar to the Tongan name fehi for this tree. The Nadroga people were partly Tongans and brought with them many ideas from their old home where the vehi trees were sacred, and is often mentioned in their legends, as it also is in the Fijian. Mead considered the Fijian name vesi was probably connected with the Malay word besi, which means “iron.”
Also called vesi-loa.- 107
Also called vuleito. Forty feet in height, fruit are ellipsoid, yellowish or yellow red when fully ripe. It resembles greatly that of the Areca catechu.
Generally found in richer soil than the nokonoko thrives in. Often seen uear Dacrydium elatum. Is sometimes seventy or eighty feet high, with girth eight or nine feet. The timber a little resembles oak. It is a very ornamental tree, called also kucau and caukuro.
Also known as walutu and wasalasala. The leaves are in great repute for chest-trouble, and for sprains. This species of convolvulus grows freely everywhere.
Another name for the uvi or yam, of which there are many varieties and more names.
Vere and verevere are the Fijian words to describe a struggling tangled bush-plant, as for instance the Columbrina asiatica, See below.
This is a medicinal plant.
A small glabrous tree which climbs by its branches—leaves very chartaceous, axilliary inflorescence, found on the slopes of Voma Mountain.
Guppy gives the name of vere to different plants, viz., the Smythea pacifica, and the Columbrina asiatica. Vere means a tangle—hence a straggling vine.
Same as the verevere.- 108
This is a more or less tangled bush, and verevere meaning tangled; this perhaps accounts for the reason so many bushes and plants of different orders are called by natives by this name. It grows well on sea-beaches in all Fiji islands. This same species is found also commonly in both China and the East Indies. The Fijians consider the verevere is a very useful medicinal plant, and use tea made from the leaves when suffering from bad internal pains.
The Bua name for the wa kalou.
Sometimes called vehi. One of the sacred trees of Viti, and in earlier days therefore it was very often dangerous to cut one for timber. The tree is one of the best timber trees in Fiji, and is very durable.
It is thought that its Fijian name may have been imitated from the Malays who call iron, vesi, this timber being extremely hard. The timber is proof against the attack of white ants, but is not safe from toredo, and is therefore not adapted for marine work.
Very hard timber. Bark fissured and scaly. Slash red.
The natives make use of the wood, which is in appearance somewhat like that of the vesi (Afzelia bijuga). Its Fijian name is in reference to its being mostly found on the coast, and means water-vesi. Sometimes it goes by the name of vesivesi. Europeans think the wood is very good for general carpentry. The timber is greyish-yellow. This tree is often called vesiniwai on account of its liking for the sides of creeks and moist places. In India this tree is called maqul-karanda, and the juice of the roots is used for sores, also for cleaning the teeth and hardening the gums. In Fiji a drink is made from the leaves together with those of the yalu; the bark is said to have valuable anti-syphilitic properties. Used as a remedy for various female troubles, such as amenorrhoea. They scrape the bark, and boil it in sea-water to make a tissane, sometimes adding yalu leaves.- 109
The vesiloa has flowers in a globular mass, four petals (5?) very solid, a little like those of garcinia—and a great number of stamens. The calyx is like a deep sup or chalice. The fruits are black and round in a cluster, often ten or more. Leaves in a big whorl, non-edible. Also called vehiloa. This plant is found flowering in November in Dranubu-bush, Sigatoka District.
The leaves of this tree are long and five or seven on a stalk. The Fijian name is also given to the Pongamia glabra (Leguminoseae). The vesivesi is found in Kadavu. There appears to be only one species of Schefflera in Fiji—and this has been listed as Agalma Vitiensis by A. G. Smith, who also includes another species—Schefflera costata.
A tall tree, leaves smooth and shining in old trees. The buds of this species yield a dye. In India they are known as nagkassa, on account of their sweet scent, which is like that of tea or violets. The Fijians use the sap for dyeing their hair red or even orange—and probably this property in the sap could be turned to profitable use. The wood of vetao is close-grained and useful.
Also called kativari. Herbaceous. Grows on the sea-level, close to beach.
This plant has big roots, often eaten by the natives baked like yams, etc. It is a very huge species of Alocasia, and is sometimes twelve feet high.
The corms of the via-kana are also baked and eaten by the natives, who consider they have a better flavour than those of the via-mila. Grows well in swamps.- 110
Same as via-gaga, etc. Used for food, but less valued than the via-kana. It always grows in swamp-land and is of a gigantic size. The corm, or edible part, often as large as a man's leg. Its name means acrid-via, while via-gaga is equivalent to poisonous-via. To make it fit for food, the Fijians first bake and then grate it.
Same as via-gaga. Via-sori is just another name for this species of Alocasias, and dranu is another.
A beautiful lily, growing freely on the sea-coast of the larger islands. It is similar to the lily that is so common in the East Indies and the Archipelago. The bulbs are large and the long leaves lanceolate (three to four feet long). The flower umbel is large and has a great many florets, of an exquisite whiteness, and delicate perfume. There are six stamens, inserted in the tubes. These are mauve with golden anthers. One variety is supposed to be poisonous. This is probably correct as Belladonna belongs to the same family.
A species of wild sugar-cane.
One of the unbrella ferns.
This species of convolvulus is also appreciated for its supposed medicinal qualities. The natives crush the leaves and then make tea of them—to relieve headache. In some parts it is known as wa-damu—because the flowers are rosy—and wa-bula, on account of its good (bula) properties.
Another name for uvi or yam. See uvi.
This beautiful fan palm, which is a native of Fiji has many names in the vernacular, viz., niu-masei, sakiki, etc.- 111
Same as beberaga.
Often spelt vothi-vothi, is only a small tree, girth seldom beyond a couple of feet, but the wood is very hard, and is therefore in request among Fijian agriculturalists, for digging-sticks in their dalo gardens.
Same as kiekie and varawa, which see.
Very often spoken of as the balawa. It grows well by the sea—but is sometimes found growing with clumps of other trees (Acacias, Casuarinas, etc. amidst the thick reeds and ferns of the inland plains, which are called talasiga, by the Fijians, and are found sometimes at considerable altitudes.
The leaves which are oblong or egg-shaped in an umbel, nine being on a common stalk, each with its own pedicile; the upper side of the leaves is green, the under side, purplish. The flowers are green.
Also called vaio and rewa, which see.
General name for many creepers belonging to this order.
This creeper has very sweetly-scented flowers, and shiny leaves. The flowers are white and wax-like. The plant grows near the sea, and in the outskirts of the woods, and comes into full flower in March. It is known as kauloa in Vanua Levu, and it is like warerega (Carruthersia scandens), which is medicinal.- 112
Grows in the flat lands; it is a small shrub, with sweet flowers.
A marked difference in habit between the vonolailai and vonolevu, but it may be due to the kind of ground. The latter is a vine and climber.
Often called O Votu. A tree growing in bushland—and outskirts of forests. This shrub has large soft leaves. It flowers in February, and is also called vauvotu.
Fern-like plant in Nadroga, very similar to the senasena.
This tree, called vuga in Viti Levu, is conspicuous for its scarlet flowers. The dark-brown timber is rather like rose wood, and makes nice furniture. Girth about six feet. Vanua Levu. According to Sykes it is called vuri in Viti Levu.
Same as vakabulaniuto.
votuki is the Deuba name, for the dalo, or taro. Formerly listed as the Caladium esculentum (Hazlewood).
Also called sou. This species of Solanum is nearer akin to the tomato. The fruit is about the size of a small apple, is goldenred when ripe and makes a pleasant addition to the comissariat when in camp, as it grows wild in many places in Bua and Macuata. It is mentioned in Wilkes' book descriptive of the 1840 American expedition.
Kuruloa is the Melochia odorata (Kew). It flowers from June to October. There is very little difference between these species, but the vuavuge is less common in Bua. Found on the slopes of the Navaka mountain.- iii
MEMOIR No. 16
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society.
FIJI PLANTS THEIR NAMES AND USES
INSTALMENT No. 8
- iv Page is blank- 113
There are a great many varieties of vudi, and of these several are introductions. The banana is such a favourite fruit that it is known everywhere. It will suffice, therefore to note a few of the native names, just pausing to remark that the Cavendish came from Chatsworth (the Duke of Devonshire's place). In India the juice from the leaves of the Musa sapientum is taken as an antidote to snake-poison.
The leaves are several feet long, the flowers grow in rose-pink panicles. Perhaps the same as the Alpinia Boia, which grows to a great size in the woods of Viti Levu. There is a native superstition in regard to these Alpinias. They are supposed to be the plantains of the veli—or spirits of the veikau (forests) and the Fijians say some evil will overtake anyone who so much as touches them—to cut or remove them is to risk worse calamities.
Sweet Cavendish. Known also as the vudinipapalagi.
This is the true banana, according to native diction, for dina means true. The leaves of this banana are recommended by the Fijians to be boiled and drunk by consumptive patients; also as a tonic after long and severe illness. They add, if obtainable, leaves of the rorogo (Commelyna Pacifica).
Its native name means the leaning banana and refers to its habit of growth.
Banana with fish-like fruit, according to native ideas.
The breeze-loving banana, a good example of the natural poetic thought of the old Fijians.- 114
A variety from Tonga.
The sheathed banana, in reference to the habit of this variety.
Or sai. Clubs of a gigantic size were formerly made from this variety of Musa.
Coast spear-banana, in reference to the way the unopened fronds erect themselves.
The shaking banana—another fanciful description in the vernacular.
This name probably means the banana of the wet month.
A small variety.
The above species of Musa do not seem to have distinctive classical names.
Sweet Cavendish. This banana was first brought to the South Pacific by John Williams, known as the Martyr of Eremanga—he brought the plant from the Duke of Devonshire's garden at Chatsworth, to the Samoan Islands, from there the Revd. George Pritchard carried it on in 1848. It is of a short habit of growth, and much liked for its flavour. Its introduction, according to Seemann has lessened the danger of famine.
Wood hard and a good grain, makes excellent posts for houses.- 115
A beautiful timber tree, mostly found on hill-sides, and when the flowers are out it is a striking object, for its blossoms are a charming red. It is sometimes given the names of vure and vota.
Flowers red and pale yellow—similar to New Zealand Rata. Wood very hard, heavy and close-grained. Perhaps the heaviest wood in Fiji; is of a reddish colour. Often has a girth of 10 feet to 12 feet. Natives differed in name of this shrub. One called it belebele, probably because it is a little like the Brackenridgia nitida.
Ba name for deniosi.
The Fijian name is also given to the F. vitiensis. There is a small variety of Freycinetia, spikes at end of branches. In another species the stem of inflorescence springs from the centre of the leaves. It is said that the fruit is sometimes eaten by the natives. The female spadix is from 2 to 3 feet long.
Sometimes spelt vulukaka. Very finely pinnate fronds, very graceful. At one time used for straining yagona.
Also known under the native name of lawere.
Nadroga name. See vuluvululevu, and lesame.
This is a species of kauvula that is indigenous in Vanua Levu. It has larger leaves than the kind that is found in Viti Levu, and is much rarer. Likes moist localities, and the lower hills. Fruits in July.- 116
Known also as ravulevu. A graceful little tree with bright green foliage. Grows in most forests. Also called aisoosoo, mari, or waini.
Also called veitchia. Forty feet in height, fruits are ellipsoid, yellowish or yellow-red when full ripe. It resembles greatly that of the Areca catechu.
This orchid grows best on either ivi or vesi trees. Sarcanthus has many-flowered inflorescences.
The name of a shrub, the leaves of which are used for straining yagona.
Grows well under trees, in light soil, and at a tolerably high altitude. Also vulavulalevu.
Same as vulovulolevu.
This species of fern grows to considerable height (3 to 6 feet) and likes hot open spaces. It is a terrestrial fern and is plentiful in the vicinity of Cagase Hill, near Kalavo, a small native village, Nokonoko district, Nadroga. This is a medicinal fern. The name of vuluvululevu is also given to various species of Asplenium—also medicinal according to the Fijians, whereas the Gleichenia dicarpa, one of the umbrella ferns, is called kauvidi and the G. linearis is known as the kauvidi while all are reputed to be medicinal.
A white yam with red skin. This is the Nadroga name.
vota or vuga (Vanua Levu). Conspicuous scarlet flowers according to Sykes; rose-pink as found in Bua Province.- 117
Shrubs with yellow flowers. The leaves were formerly in request on account of their soapy nature. The natives used these in the water in which they washed their hair in order to free it from vermin. vuso means foam or froth, and vuso makes a soap-like lather.
A sea-weed. This species of Algeae, grows profusely on the sand-flats, and is the natural food of turtles.
A species of Chinchonaceae. It has white globose infloresences with very long styles.
Same as the vutukana.
Used by Kai Viti to poison fish (i.e., to stupify them); juice said to be very injurious to eyes, if squirted into them by any means. The square nuts if planted in a tin make an ornamental pot-plant. The leaves are said by the natives to be a certain cure for Erysipelas. The old women used to chew these.
The fruit of this species of Barringtonia is considered poisonous.
vutudina in contradistinction to vutuniwai, is said to be a very good food, and its fruit is better than that of the B. edulis. Like all vutu trees is very fascinating, and has gained the appelation of “tears of the night,” from the natives, probably because it drops its blossoms into rivers in the darkness. Once seen floating on a river in the early morning these lovely balls can never be forgotten.- 118
As its botanical name proclaims, this is an edible variety of Barringtonia. This species is of erect growth and sometimes is between 30 and 40 feet in height. The leaves are quite a foot long, and more leathery than the other vutus. The petals are white and so are the long silky stamens. It has a baccate fruit, which is sometimes eaten by Fijians, although it seems insipid to white people. They eat it either raw or cooked. It is also called vutukata.
Grows near creeks and rivers—loves damp places. Vutuniwai and vutuwai.
Sea-beach, very showy flowers and large leaves. Same as vutuvala. Mead tells us that the large square seeds of the S. speciosa are used by the natives as floats for their fishing-nets. It is a large tree, mostly found near the sea.
Same as vuturakaraka. There is said to be a very strongly poisonous matter in the fruits of this tree.
Same as vuturakaraka, which see.
Grows near creeks and rivers—loves damp places. Sometimes called vutuniwai. Reddish-green leaves. Rather a small tree.
This is a common basket fern, (called midre when young), also known sometimes as suvi. Possibly it is the same as the veluve (Asplenium nidus.)
Small tree, grows in forests and on lime-stone formation.- 119
This is a very beautiful creeper; found in Viti Levu.
This strong-stemmed and deliciously-scented vine is in many ways similar to its congener, the warega, but it is accepted now as quite a different species. The flowers, though equally or more fragrant, are smaller and the bright, shining glabrous leaves are even broader. The colouring of the flowers is pink and white. Found in Koronisau district, Colo West. This very charming creeper has medicinal properties.
Mile-a-minute, although an introduced plant from America, is to be found almost everywhere in Fiji. The leaves are considered to be a remedy for irritation of the skin and to sooth the sharp pain occasioned by the stings of hornets, bees, etc. The settlers have given it the very appropriate name of mile-a-minute, on account of the amazing rapidity of its growth. It is an introduced climber with dainty creamy-white flowers and bright-green, glabrous leaves.
Leaves very large, over a foot either way, and varying from heart-shaped to round, from smooth to silky-haired, from entire to crenulated.
This is another medicinal species of convolvulus and is described under viliawa, which see.
Climbs over rocks, shrubs, and even trees. The corollas is bell-shaped and white. Leaves heart-shaped, smooth and oblong stems.
Same as the wavuti. This is a medicinal plant.
Often met with in mixed forest. The wood is soft and white. Often spelt wathiwathi.
This plant has long, round leaves—almost cylindrical; the flowers in cymes or umbels, and black seeds; was given the botanical name of Lazuriaga cymosa by R. Brown—wadukua, is a synonym for “dammara creeper” and is so called because the leaves of this creeping plant are similar to those of the Dammara Vitiensis. It grows commonly in the island of Kadavu, and is also a habitant of Norfolk Island, etc. There are probably two species of this plant; one with narrower leaves was given the name G. augustifolium by C. Koch.
Rewa Province. This species of Ipemoea, has been described under viliawa. It is of a reddish tint. Compare also wabula. The leaves of this convolvulus are said to cure pains in head and ears, if chewed, put to steep in water and the liquid drunk.
Also called wavuka, etc. This is a species of Raspberry, which has been used in the absence of other fruit by settlers.
A creeping variety of the yagonagona. Also kawa. wagawa, as the original inhabitants called this species, meaning that is was a climbing kawa (or yagona). It has many points of resemblance to the yagoyagona, but the differences are sufficient to cause it to be regarded as belonging to another species.
Also known as the okeoke.
This species has 3-lobed leaves and serrated teeth; rounded berry. The ordinary grape vine, V. vinifera, belongs to this genus. It has been grown in Fiji.- 121
This determination is teste A. C. Smith. But wagodro is more often used for the plant known as the rubus tiliaceus.
Fruit a little like raspberry. Eearly settlers used them in “pies.” Also known by the Fijians as wagadrogadro, wavoto-votoa; wagadro, wahone, and wavuka.
Same as wasalasala. Colo West name. In great repute among the hillpeople for its medicinal qualities.
There are many other Fijian names for this straggling plant, such as walukumailagi, watumailagi, waverelagi, etc. It is known commonly to Europeans as the dodder. Among the natives it has a reputation for medicinal virtues, and is a favourite cure for indigestion, etc. The women have recourse to a drink made of the leaves when parturition is difficult.
A small forest tree with bright green foliage. Also called by some natives ravulevu.
A small, smooth-leaved tree. Leaves larger than in H. Richii, the flower-buds are hairy—otherwise a glabrous shrub.
Colo West. Probably only a local name for C. circinalis, which has been described under roro, as a tree with a pith-like substance reserved for the use of chiefs alone. vu means root, when bulbous.
Astrigent qualities; same as wagodrogodro. Nadroga. See above.- 122
Often called the Ipomoea Bona-nox, having gained the name because it blossoms at night, and makes the darkness fragrant with the perfume of its white flowers, which are very alluring to night moths, etc., and are a most attractive sight in the darkness. Found on sea-beaches in Taveuni. It has many other Fijian names.
Same as tobici. A very graceful creeper with mauve flowers, climbs to great heights, and is common in Viti Levu.
Also known as Rhus Taitensis. Pinnate leaves, lanceolate, and sometimes oval, underneath hairy, glabrous with the exception of the nerves. Flowers white-petaled growing in the axils of the straggling panicles, calyx five lobed. Stamens ten, drupes are black and shining. The R. Taitensis is very similar and is called waiwai in Tahiti.
Coriaceous leaves with recurved margin, flowers with three stamens. Seeds oval and of a red colour. Vanua Levu and other islands. This may possibly be the M. rufa of Labillardiere.
This is a climbing bush with rather membranaceous leaves and panicles of flowers with white sepals. There are no petals, and in this species the sepals are much shorter than in the C. stenosepala, and also thicker and blunter.
This fern has a creeping rhizome and climbing fronds. Sometimes classified as Pteris comans. The Fijian natives like to eat the leaves of this fern, boiled, as we do spinach.
This creeper is highly esteemed by the Kai Viti, as they think that a hot infusion of the leaves will dissolve stone in the bladder, and is used generally for pain in the abdomen. They use the leaves of the wauvi for the same trouble. Called humakai in Hawaii.- 123
Commonly known as “holy fern.” Also called vereverete and wasena, and uho. The leaves pounded (or chewed) with the inside bark of the vakacaradavui (Tarenna sambucina), boiboida, and the bovu; are mixed with cold water, strained, and drunk as a remedy for indigestion. Or it may be used in conjunction with the leaves of the yaro (Premna Taitiensis). The people of Kai Viti chew these leaves and add water to the pulp thus obtained. wakalou has a good reputation as an antiseptic.
This is according to A. C. Smith—but usually wakalou is the name given, to the Lygodium scandens. wakalou is Fijian for “holy-fern.”
A secret medicine—a contracept—also as an antiseptic.
This vine makes a very black dye. Found in Nadroga province.
Found in Bua forest. At present not possible to give classified name.
Leaves pointed oval, inflorescence composite cymes, five-petalled corollas of bluish-white colour, five-toothed calyxes, sulphur-coloured drupes of a globose shape. Found in Ovalau.
This kind of Hibiscus grows on dry ground, and is to be seen almost anywhere in these islands. The flowers are red, on long pedicles. A native medicine. Also called vakeke, which see. A drink is made from the juice of the flowers to cause abortion—a secret medicine.
Bua. A very beautiful climbing plant, with strong and flexible stem and rose-pink flowers, which are very attractive seen among the foliage of lofty trees.- 124
Bua. The mucuna has umbels of fine greenish flowers, and grows well in the bush.
Flowers have salver-shaped corollas—seeds leathery. The leaves, when young are furfuraceous, but glabrous when mature. It is a climbing shrub, with very robust habit of growth.
Also called mudari (moondari), and as its botanical name denotes it has large leaves. This shrub or tree is sometimes listed as a Tetranthara.
Large lianes. Often used for tying bamboos, etc. Often called wataqiri. Common in all forests. Seed flat, round, and polished. A medicine according to the Kai Viti. The leaves chewed or pounded and used as a poultice, also to be rubbed well, i.e., massage on to the limb or limbs as a remedy for waqaqa (Filaria or elephantiasis). This wonderful vine has also proved a God-send in times of drought, as there is much moisture stored in its long sinuous lianes; these give a welcome and refreshing drink, and are at the same time of value as a stimulating tonic.
A climber often seen in dry forests—used in making mats, baskets and cordage. Also known as galo.
This plant is a species of rattan, and gets its botanical name from the Latin for “reed” (calmus) which came from the Greek kalamos.
See above, wakiwaki; used for same purpose.
A small, smooth-leaved tree. Leaves larger than in M. Richii, the lower buds are hairy; otherwise a glabrous shrub.
When young a very pretty, fragile fern.- 125
A creeping fern. This is the Nadroga name. The Selaginella distans is probably also called walewale by the Fijians.
This climbing plant is also known by another Fijian name warerega. It was originally classed under the name Rejoua scandens, and has considerable affinity to the Alyxias. walili is a very graceful creeper, flowering from December to March. The leaves are glabrous but the calyx-lobes and interior of the corolla-tube are hairy; the corolla-lobes are white but the tubes are crimson. The drupe is almost three inches in diameter. The natives use the leaves as medicine.
This shrub is found in Vanua Levu, and is seldom more than six feet in height. The flowers are pale yellow and generally six-merous, the tube is slightly hairy inside. The leaves are about five inches broad, opposite and with pointed apices. The drupe is two-celled and green in colour. The perfume of the flowers is pleasant.
Leaves are long and slender, with sharp apices. The flower-stalk is divided into three branches, and is flat in front and convex at the back. The berries are oblong egg-shaped. Whole plant about 2 feet in height.
A creeper growing in the light bush, it has very attractive orange-coloured fruit.
Also called alu, yalu, and toga. This plant is used for rheumatism and kidney-trouble; also used for children who are troubled with aptha (croup). A handful of the leaves is boiled together with the thin outer bark or integumen of the stems in a quart of water, till reduced to a pint. A wine glass is to be taken three times a day for either trouble.- 126
Described under walutumailagi. Called also wavere, waverelagi, etc. Used medicinally on Kai Viti.
This plant is also called wasalasala and wahalahala by the Colo West Fijians, who use it medicinally. It is found very commonly on the roadsides, and its blue flowers are very attractive.
The Fijian name means “The Creeper come down from the skies.” Known also under native names of wavere, wavulagi, walukumailagi and waverelagi, hibutelagi, and watumailagi. Formerly classed as Cuscuta Rhombut, but less often as Acatsia Valli (Rheede). This parasitic plant may commonly be seen on trees in Fiji. It has a urn-shaped calyx, and there is an agglomeration of flowers, sometimes in a panicle. It is a kind of dodder, and is much valued by the Kai Viti as a medicinal plant. They pound the long, thread-like leafless stems and add water. This is accounted a cure for indigestion. Women at the time of childbirth take the same remedy, apparently to reduce feverish symptoms. Found growing on trees and climbing over bushes all over the Fijian group. Also found in Hawaii and Christmas Island, etc. as well as in China and the Indian archipelago. The long clinging sinuous stems are pale green. The minute flowers are hermaphrodite and the calyces are persistent.
Useful for cordage.
This is a creeping fern, very often found on trees in Colo West. Has sharply toothed pinnate fronds. Edible, according to Fijians, and Colo natives sometimes eat the tender young leaves as they do many other ferns in the place of spinach. Sometimes listed as Stenochloena palustris—it grows well near a lake at Tonure, Colo West.
Same as waia.- 127
Same as watangiri and wavi?
A strong vine with stiff wiry stems. These have been used to tie thatch. Leaves dark green, flowers in terminal and axillary racemes, corolla about ½ inch long, salver-shaped with whitish-yellow petals, has very sweet perfume. The fruit is black when ripe, and has one seed.
The Fijian name means “creeping round nuts.” This handsome plant has white and yellow flowers, growing close to the ground, almost hidden by the very large and numerous orchid-like parallel-veined leaves, often indeed they are overlooked and undescribed. Flowers have four petals; the leaves in sets of three—one set egg-shaped and long, the next serrated, or lobed.
This spelling is hardly correct, as p is scarcely used in Fijian. Also called wavani by many natives.
A small plant, probably an Ixora.
A small pretty convolvulus, rather like the tagica, but with narrow leaves, found in Colo West, where the natives use it medicinally.
Also known as wakabo. The leaves are used as a pot-herb by the Kai Viti. It seems to be a dwarfed variety of wamuidre, with creeping rhizomes, and a habit of climbing on trees. Sometimes called wamidre.
This is an evergreen creeping plant or bushy shrub; the roots are tuberous and somewhat fibrous. It has globular seeds, leaves are alternate, corded, and with net-work veining. The inflorescence of the male flowers is similar to that of the S. zelandica, the leaves are from 5 inches long and three in breadth. Used by natives as cords, and in the construction of fish-traps; found in Colo-i-Suva road, and in Ovalau.- 128
This is a true sarsaparilla and is by the natives called kadragi, warusi and nakauwa. It is also known in Hawaii as akaava, and its sinuous stems are there used for tying the rafters of their houses. This is a valuable plant, and as it is found all over the group, if there was a demand it could be gathered in abundance, as it can be easily cultivated on cleared land. Its name nakauwa means “woody creeper”; like all sarsaparillas the stems are leathery; it belongs to the sort known as the non-mealy, which is the most valued by pharmacologists. Its medicinal virtues are well known to the Fijians, but they do not use the rhizome as we do, but the leaves, which they pound, add water and strain, much in the same way as they treat the Piper methysticum for the well-known drink—yangona. The lower leaves are very large; the flowers are in umbels and the berry is black and contains three seeds.
Seemann spelt the Fijian name, on Storck's authority as wararega. It is a climbing plant, used medicinally by the natives, who boil the leaves in water, and drink the tea. The flowers are fairly large, in loose panicles, the corolla-tube is crimson, but the lobes are white. The leaves are large (5 inches long by 3 inches broad) smooth and glossy. Added to its charms is the delicious odour it exhales. Both this species and the very similar wabitubitu, are very worthy of a place in our gardens, as these vines would look well on pergolas, as it is a plant of great beauty.
This also is a saponaceous plant, often a creeping habit, but sometimes a fair-sized shrub. The flower have four petals and are in cymes. Young leaves are hairy. The stem, when heated, makes a lather in water, and is said to destroy vermin.
Medium sized tree—30 to 40 feet. Grows in forests on limestone. Is also known in Tonga and Australia. A similar tree grows in Vanua Levu—but is of a smaller and more graceful habit—the Z. pinnatum; was formerly called the Blackburnia pinnata.
Also called, sometimes, warasidina. Leaves used medicinally, has similar properties to sarsaparilla. Same as nakauwa.- v
MEMOIR No. 16
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society.
FIJI PLANTS THEIR NAMES AND USES
INSTALMENT No. 9
- vi Page is blank- 129
Used in place of salt in cooking greens by the Fijians. Probably the A. gibberosa, as that fern formerly used by the natives to strain their yangona through.
Colo West. Also called wahalahala. It is used by the natives in Colo West as a medicine. A vine-like plant with the same name is eaten, not, however, the leaves nor roots, but the stalks. The native name denotes that it creeps along the roadsides—walutu is another Fijian name, and signifies much the same, as it is literally “the drooping down on the road of its creeper.” The leaves, which are obicular and fully five inches at their base, are used to alleviate chest-trouble, and poultices of leaves are considered to be of great use for sprains and other things. The Fijians crush the leaves and place them on the limb or part affected, poultice-fashion, and then bandage well. The flowers are a beautiful, cerulean blue, large and trumpet-shaped. This exquisite colour changes about noon, taking on then a purplish tint; by eventide it becomes a mauve-violet and fades away; the 3-lobed calyces are persistent.
Called also doiniwau. This tree does not grow to any great size. When young the foliage is olive-green. The leaves clustered at end of branches. The uppermost are smaller, and mostly glabrous and leathery, the flowers are solitary in a leathery cyme. Fruits globose.
The wase is often to be seen near the coast, frequently growing as shrubs, but sometimes as small trees 15 to 20 feet high. Called also usi, uee, and wasewase. wase is used as a remedy for constipation. It is said to be best in conjunction with other plants, i.e., ngato (Pteris crenata) and lato (Rosea chiensis). Leaves of all these must be well pounded and boiled in water. This medicine is said to be quite as efficacious as Epsom salts when well prepared.
Colo West for wakalou. The creeping lygodium is much used by the natives for personal adornment.- 130
wasiga is the Vanua Levu name. This climbing plant belongs to the same genus as the kura (Noni) and grows well on the Macuata coast of Vanua Levu. The numerous corolla tubes are white and grow in a globose head. The leaves are somewhat oblong in shape. The wasiga is sometimes found in Viti Levu.
Frequently called by the names duruka and turuka. The flowering “ears,” which look somewhat like those of bullrushes are excellent when boiled, and much liked by natives and many Europeans. They are very good pickled.
Fijians take the tendrils, and infuse in cold water as a cure for stomach-ache and pains in the intestines. Probably this creeping vine is the same as the wasovivi and the wabici.
This species has grey seeds. The Fijians boil the root in water and take as a tonic for debility. In India this plant is called the kumburuwel, and the Hindus use the tender leaves for toothache; it is also given for worms in children. In Fiji considered a remedy for debility—the roots are boiled in water which is drunk as a tonic.
Tendrils used for drink to relieve stomach-ache. Miss Isabella Sinclair (Hawaii) says the natives there call it pilikai and think highly of the seeds, for medicine.
Same as walai, etc. The Fijians chew or pound the leaves, and use as a poultice, also to be rubbed well, i.e., massaged on to the limb or limbs, as a remedy for waqaqa (Filaria or Elephantiasis).
The corollas are white and campanulate, the leaves glabrous and the capsules are also glabrous inside as well as the seeds. All convolvulus leaves are valued by natives.
Same as duva—a good insecticide.- 131
A creeping species of pepper, called also ngaunganga. The leaves of this plant were formerly used by Fijians for washing their hair to destroy vermin. It appears to be nearly related to the P. insectifugum.
Also called dabici. Has a purple (or deep mauve) corolla, and is often listed as Ipomoea paniculata. Its leaves are fully palmate. Called in Taihiti umara, which is very like New Zealand kumara.
The Fijians use the leaves as a tea to drink frequently as a remedy for stone in the bladder, and pains in the abdomen. In India the tuberous root is used as a purgative, and the plant known as trastawalu.
Same as wapani.
A very charming pink-blossomed creeper. Alternate leaves, these are oblong and narrow, flowers are small. Capsules oblong, blunt ends and somewhat leathery.
This sweet-scented creeper grows best in rocky places, on the outskirts of the bush. It flowers in March. Habitat—Nava-kasiga, Bua Province.
Introduced. Described under walutumailagi. Sometimes called wavere, and walutumailagi. Medicinal repute for indigestion; also given to women in difficult and delayed parturition.
Same as wagodrogodro, wavuka, wahoni, etc.
Same as wakorovudi. wavudi is sometimes spelt wavundi. Asa Grey classified it as Clerodondron ovalifolia. This shrub is of- 132
robust climbing habit, the large leaves when mature are glabrous and coppery on the under-side, but while young furfuraceous. Inflorescenses are lateral and terminal; flowers creamy-white and salver-shaped. Seeds when dry are coriaceous.
Same as wagodrogodro and wavotovotoa. The fruit of this Raspberry is eaten by Fijians, and was in early days made into puddings and pies by white settlers.
Pumpkin. This was certainly introduced, but is now very freely grown for exportation.
A creeper with large white flowers.
Also known as lawere. The flower of this creeping convolvulus is a beautiful purple. The leaves are nearly round with a lobed margin, and very green. Not only common on all Fijian beaches, but indigenous to the tropics in both the Eastern and Western hemisphere. Formerly the leaves were used after being roasted for caulking canoes.
Another name for tubua; also vuka and wavuwavu, which see.
This plant is used medicinally by the Fijians. Double hand-fuls of the leaves, crushed and chopped small; boiled in a quart of sea-water, reduced to half quantity. The residuum is drunk as a remedy for constipation. As a cure for boils the leaves are macerated and applied to the boil as a poultice. Same as wawuti or yavu.
Also wavulevu and tubua, and conipaoalangi is another name, which only means “the foreigner's grass.” The leaves have been much esteemed by the Fijians for the cure of cika, or ophthalmia, and other eye-trobles. They had a very primitive way of administering this cure, for they used to chew the leaves, spit the juice into an ivi leaf, double this, and use it to drop the juice into the sufferer's eyes. Strange to say- 133
the sinugaga is also considered good for sore eyes, though it is a poisonous plant. They only use four or five leaves, however, and say these are pungent, bitter, and acrid.
The flowers of this beautiful variety are blue in the morning, but turn purple at sunset. The leaves are heart-shaped with a sharp apex. Same as wavuti. The Fijians make frequent use of stems and leaves and it is said to have been the only medicine of any value as a cure for that dreadful scourge—the lila—a century and more ago, as is indicated in an old meke (song).
Papaw. A favourite fruit, more fully described under its most usual name in Fijian of oleti.
A small tree, thrives in under-wood, especially in Colo West. Timber tough and elastic. Found in Kauri forests. Used for walking-sticks, etc., and Mr. Sykes says the timber might possibly make good golf sticks.
This tree has a very smooth trunk, and does not give foothold to any plant or parasite or epiphite habits. It is never seen crusted with lichens or moss, nor even ferns, whereas most forest trees are the genial hosts of innumerable cryptograminous growths and ferns, oberons, taeniophyllums, aspleniums, etc. The Fijians understood how necessary it was to have a clean tongue, so they were accustomed to make an infusion from the wi-bark which they scraped fine together with that of the kavikadamudamu (Jambosa malaccensis) and set them to steep in boiling water, covering them first with leaves of the ivi (Inocarpus edulis). When cold this water was freely used to sponge or scour the tongue.
The flowers are in racemes, on short peduncles, and grow in the axils of the leaves.
Though this tree grows to a goodly size, its timber is worthless, being soft and not durable. It grows commonly on the coasts,- 134
and is noticeable when in seed on account of the way the round bunches of seed rattle in the wind. Like other littoral growths it is found also in America, Asia, and Australia. As a remedy for constipation the bark is scraped and boiled in water; or the leaves can be macerated and then steeped in cold water. The natives also say the bark, boiled together with the leaves, makes a very useful medicinal drink. It is a strong purgative, and a remedy for dysentry. In some parts it is called mangele, and strange to say the mulomulo, though quite a different tree and with different medicinal virtues, is sometimes known as wiriwiri; yet another instance of the double-banking of Fijian names. It is rather a strang-looking tree, when fully grown is 50 or 60 feet in height, with white trunk and stems. The timber is almost worthless, and the heart is often found decayed as in willows. In Nadroga, according to H. Wright, the wiriwiri is called banidakai. In young plants the leaves are large, three-lobed and heart-shaped, slightly tomentose on both sides. In the mature trees, leaves are entire and glabrous.
Another name for mulomulo, according to Wright in Bulletin No. 10. This also is a medicinal tree, about 50 feet high when fully grown. The bark contains tannin, and it is sometimes used for cases, butterboxes. The wood of this tree is almost indestructible under water. Has heart-shaped leaves; the flowers change their colour from yellow to pink as the day advances.
Kadavu. The same as bakanivudi. The wood is tough, tree about 40 feet.
Gathered and named in Colo West.
This is a peculiarly interesting tree to have been found in Fiji, for the genus was not previously known outside China and Formosa (Kew). It is a hardy tree with deciduous leaves and small yellow flowers, borne in large tresses; it grows to about 15 feet high. In Nadroga and Colo West the leaves are much in favour among natives for hair-dye.- 135
Is considered very valuable medicine in cases of either dysentry or diarrhoea; often spoken of, erroneously, as arrowroot. This is found everywhere in this group, and is in great favour as a food and medicine. It grows best in sandy soil, near the sea. The leaves are triparted. Flowers several on one stem (from 4 to 8). The berries are roundly globose. The roots are eaten like other root vegetables or the farina is carefully washed out and prepared. It is then the arrowroot of commerce, and the quality made in Fiji is very high grade. It goes by the name of ra in both Samoa and Tahiti.
This is not indigenous, but was introduced, a long time ago, and is now quite acclimatized.
This species of tacca grows best on hill-sides and in heavy soil. Leaves are speckled, and tripart, but not fluted like those of the yabia dina. The speckles or spots are a dirty white. The natives speak of this species as yabia. This kind is found in Tahiti. Is much in repute as a remedy for both dysentry and diarrhoea.
Another name for this scented grass is coboi, the “smelling grass,” and the natives of Bua province place great faith in a tea made from the leaves to cure colds, catarrh, and neuralgia, and also as a palliative in cases of cystitis, etc.; this they consider a certain cure, but always advise that the first water should be thrown away, and the second brew drunk. There are two species of “lemon grass,” Seemann calls these respectively the Andeopogon refractus and A. acidulatus, but the usual name is as given above. In Bua both species are known as yagiyagi, and the Vanua Levu natives consider this grass to be a great cure for neuralgia, saying that mosquitoes will not come near a clump of coboi; therefore pillows stuffed with the grass are much esteemed.
Grows well in Vanua Levu.- 136
This tree is not plentiful, and is confined to the higher slopes of the hills and mountains; indeed, it is said never to occur below 800 feet. Its scarctiy may be attributed in large measure to its timber having been always in demand. In the earlier days it was cut ruthlessly. It is an interesting fact that the Casuarina nodiflora frequently grows in association with the yaka. Young seedlings are very delicate, and seek the shade. The timber is light brown to dark rose, with a good grain.
Also called leweninini and caukalou. Bark brown or grey. Height 70 to 80 feet. Timber hard, heavy and very brittle.
A vine. Fijians call this creeper wayaka, to indicate more definitely its creeping habit. It grows freely on the sea-coast all over the group, and is frequently found growing near noko-noko trees and flourishes well in their vicinity. It is a three-leaved creeper, and has beautiful purple-blue or white flowers, streaked with yellow on the vexillium. The calyx is urn-shaped; there are ten stamens. The stems are covered with a furry bark. The tough fibre of this papilionaceous creeper is used for fishing-nets, the floats of which are the square fruits of the vuturakaraka (Barringtonia speciosa). The wayaka was used in native ceremonies. In times of scarcity the tubers are used as food, but are rather hard and stringy; yet when cooked in coconut milk, mashed with the addition of a little sugar, they are considered to be quite palatable. As yaka grows best in rich soil, nts presence speaks well for the ground in which it flourishes.
This pretty evening flower is used medicinally for pains in either stomach or abdomen—for this purpose leaves are boiled together with leaves of the quatema (Urena lobata) in equal quantities, the infusion to be drunk in small doses. Another local name for this plant is the kauseleka.
Nadroga name for vasili. The Cordyline sp. is often called by the alternative name of Taetsia sp.- 137
Also known as Sauninini. Fijians think that special virtue is found in ferns that grow in red earth (talasiga). The women make a drink for themselves of this and other ferns, infusing the fronds in cold water over night; they drink this early next day. This is essentially a woman's medicine. It is a pretty club-moss, somewhat like the “creeping jenny” of New Zealand.
In favour for its medicinal properties for the Fijians say that a drink made of the bark, etc. will cure both rheumatism and kidney-trouble, as well as being a good medicine for children troubled with either aptha or croup. Also called alu, waloa and toga.
Possibly the same as the togatu. The young leaves are pink and are easily mistaken for the cibicibi.
This small tree grows well in Bua Province.
Often known in the Pacific as the kava or avaava. In Hawaii called kawa, and Seemann refers to it as kawa, and under this name—transferred to their indigenous pepper—the Maoris have evidently preserved some memories of their old-time beverage, previous to their migration to New Zealand. yangona grows best in the uplands. Shrubs about 6 feet. The leaves cordate, green and somewhat tinged with purple. The root and extreme base are the parts used for the well-known drink. They are preferred fresh, but more used dried. The roots are now reduced by pounding, but formerly were chewed. Water is poured on this pounded root, and it is squeezed through bunches of fern or the fibres of the vau, and the liquid is drunk. This fern is mentioned by Hazelwood, under the name of vulukaka. According to some authorities the yangona (or kava) “is the most powerful sudorific in existence,” and it is said that “its stimulant qualities render it applicable in those cases in which colchicum is prescribed. Happily the intoxication it produces is not like that caused by spirituous liquors; those who drink it do not become quarrelsome, on the contrary its imbibition is said- 138
to induce placid tranquility and vague dreams; so though it is not like that fabulous narcotic which old writers eulogize “that cometh from beyond the moon,” and is “the tears of flowers, that drop when these weep,” the piper methysticum also has a certain therapeutic value; its salutary effect is extolled especially in all calculous afflictions. Though like all other drugs, if taken in excess it has bad results on account of its excessive action on the skin, and may even super-induce elephantiasis, that terrible complaint, so prevalent in Fijian villages. It is used medicinally also for kidney and bladder-troubles—being a strong sudorific as already said.
Sometimes called the “false yagona,” also the Honolulu yangona. The leaves are steeped in water, and the liquid drunk as a remedy for bad pains in the head.
According to Seemann this species of Piperaceae grows in the forests of Taviuni, Viti Levu and Kadavu, and can be found also in Tonga and the Society islands. It was at one time given the botanical name of Macropiper macgillevraye, but of late the correctness of this nomenclature for this plant has been called in question. There is another wild yangona, sometimes called the Honolulu yagona, which is considered entitled to this classical name. It is questionable too, whether the variety found in Tonga belongs to the same species as this Fijian plant, for in the former the leaves are glabrous throughout, whereas in the plants found in Fiji, the underside of the leaves is tomentose, while the upper side alone is glabrous. These leaves are roundly heart-shaped at the base, with sharply-pointed apices, and have from five to nine nerves (veins). The inflorescence is a catkin made up of a great number of minute flowers, which are followed by very definite and numerous fruits and finally seeds. Though this species is not used by the Fijians as a drink, the natives in Viti Levu used to believe that the veli (or spirits of the veikau) made their kawa (kava or yangona) from the root of these plants, and therefore yangoyangona was sacred (tapu) to these forest-dryads in the same way that the boia (Alpinia boia) and tankua (that is the cagicake, under its Namosi name of the Ptyschospermum filiferum) were held to be sacred to these forest-spirits, the one as their plaintain, the other as their coconut-meat, and they believed condign punishment would be the portion of any mortal rash enough to touch either one of these sacred plants. The veli seem to have had much the same mythological importance as the pixies and dryads of old British fairy tales. There is- 139
considerable likeness between this plant and that known by Fijians as the waganga, but the number of stamens and nerves differing, prove the latter to have been properly placed under another classical name.
Or naiyaro. Usually a small tree with plentiful white flowers in corymbs. The drupes are blue-black. Occasionally found of considerable size. The yaro is also called the tavolavo in some provinces of Fiji. In Bua the juice of the leaves is used to relieve pain or irritation in the eyes.
The well-known sandalwood of commerce, now comparatively scarce. One of the trees that cries aloud for re-afforestation. As it is a companionate tree, care should be taken in its cultivation to plant the suitable plants near young yasi. Its regeneration is not difficult, but it needs care and shade in the early stage of its growth. Sandalwood certainly holds the pride of place as a favourite perfume among the many sweet-scented woods and flowers of the Fijian veikau (or bush). The natives grate the precious yasi wood and so produce a powder for which they find a ready sale among themselves. yasi is called iliahi in Hawaii. There is an element of thrilling romance about the old-time stories of the sandalwood-traders and the dangers they brought on themselves by the way they had of rousing the ire of the wholly savage natives, but this is not the place for a resumé of their history. Suffice it to say the early comers left very little sandalwood uncut when they gave up the trade, and yasi is now a rare tree, and is protected by Government. By some the yasi is supposed to be the famous almug-tree, the wood of which was used in the building of Solomon's Temple. It is impossible to vouch for the truth of this assertion, but there is just enough possibility in the idea to make it of value to those ethnological students who fancy they can trace some vestiges of Hebraic ancestry in the physiognomics of the older Kai Viti.
Sandalwood. Only another name for yasi. Its Fijian name means simply poor or worthless sandalwood. It is also called dravu, this also meaning base.
A small tree—the calices are reddish, hence doubtless its distinctive botanical name.- 140
A tree that is mostly found near creeks, and on their banks. It is in appearance much like a willow; the leaves are dark-green above but paler beneath. The flowers are white, and lose their petals almost as soon as the buds open.
Smith says he found this tree in Vanua Levu and that it was about 60 feet in height. It produces a valuable and durable timber. Has red, ovoid-ellipsoid fruits; but he did not see flowers. Mead says “the timber is an excellent hardwood, closely resembling Australian blue-gum. It is a good building timber. It is used for the keels of cutters as well as for many other purposes.”
“The dance of the mist”; medicinal value; drink made of leaves, to reduce fever; also a sedative.
A herb of the veikau (forest) with white flowers, and narrow leaves. It has a repute as a hair restorer, in which connection there is a legend concerning a tevora and his eye-brows.
Also known by its native name of wavuti. It is said to be valuable as a cure for boils, aches and pains, and constipation. The old Fijians macerated quantities of leaves and then applied as a poultice; they bruised leaves in their hands in order to free the healing juices, which they added to coconut-oil and used freely, massaging the patient. To add to its efficacy the mixture was put in a banana-leaf and placed on the top of a stove or in a hot oven and then rubbed on while still warm for sprains and swellings; double handfuls of leaves chopped (or better still chewed) were boiled in a quart of sea-water; when reduced to a pint the residue was taken internally. It is said by old Fijians to have been the only effective medicine for that terrible scourge—the lila, which swept away so many natives in the early part of last century.- 141
The same as evuevu. Called also uviuvi. This plant is supposed to have special medicinal virtues. The Fijian married women still have recourse to it as a reliable contra-concept. The Hernandia peltata for long was said to be the only Fijian example of the order, though there are other species in neighbouring islands in Polynesia.
One of seven species with a wide geographical distribution; in the Rhaetic plant-fields of North and Central Europe numerous fossil leaves have been discovered. This Fijian species is both large and conspicuous—its frond being about twenty inches across, and the stipes over a yard in height. The frond is deeply cleft; grows well on Rorobasabas-aga Mountain. Its native name shows it to have been one of the sacred plants of old Viti, veli being the word used for the spirits dwelling in the forest. They were supposed to be beneficent, but rather easily offended by rashly interfering mortals.
Fijian mothers use the leaves of this strongly-smelling bush, by soaking them in cold water, to increase the flow of milk from their breasts. It is also esteemed as a sedative.
The leaves are mixed with those of the capsicum and rubbed on parts painful from rheumatism.
Used as an antiseptic; the Fijians chew the leaves to extract the juice.
The leaves of this plant are esteemed as helpful for reduction of rheumatic pains.
Fijians say that cika, that very painful eye-disease so common in these islands, can be cured by pounding the bark of bulei, and injecting the juice into the eyes. cika is a little like South African eye-blight.- 142
The natives say that if the leaves are boiled they make a good poultice which will cure boils, etc. (teste W.L.P.). I doubt, however, if this herbaceous plant is indigenous to Fiji. denimana may be euphoniously translated as “goats' droppings,” etc.; it is frequently used, evidently on account of some fancied resemblance to the excreta from birds, animals, etc., e.g., deniosi (osi, a word coined when horses were first introduced in Bua).
In India this plant is known as the dadakiriga or kiritala. The whole plant is considered a cure for asthma. Sometimes enquired for, for export.
In India known as the domba-tel, and the oil is called domba oil; it is extracted from the fruit kernels for ulcers and hoof-disease of cattle. The root and bark are used for rheumatic pains. dilo leaves are used in some places, crushed till the juice is extracted, applied to the eyes. It is said to relieve long-standing irritation.
Commonly called diridamu. In India it is known as olindawel, where the juice of the green leaves is taken for purifying the blood, and the root for sore throat and rheumatism. Fijians also use a decotion of the leaves, and the late Dr. Brough allowed that this was useful in cases of infantile enteritis. The red seeds, however, contain a virulent poisoning matter.
The Fijians value this shrub, as they think the bark, scraped and boiled makes a curative eye-wash.
Fijians make plasters of the leaves to prevent anthrax. They use kaunisiga for the same thing and for cure of abscesses.
Is a very irritant poison.
Much valued for the cure of infantile convulsions. The native name gives the idea of soothing sleep.
A decoction of the leaves is used to increase the flow of milk. It is a woman's plant as the name implies.- 143
This is a grass-like fern, sometimes called the tape-fern; more elegantly, the ribbon fern.
The bark is in favour as a laxative.
The leaves of this straggling shrub are steeped in water to increase the action of the lacteal glands. It is also esteemed as a cure for abscesses.
Fijians take the bark together with that of vobo, scrape well and press it; then add water sufficient to make a drink. This compound is considered very useful for ear-ache and head-ache, but they add advice as well as water; the sufferer must on no account eat crabs or any food that turns red when boiled, neither must he partake of octopus, or the cure will not work.
A woman's medicine and generally used in conjunction with other leaves, such as those of salato and saucava.
This plant grows on the famous Navakasiga rock, otherwise known as Black rock, in the Bua province. The natives use it as a cure for ringworm—a very prevalent disease among them. For this purpose they boil the roots for a long time (after scraping them carefully) in sea-water. The fluid is used as a lotion. Interest in this cure for scabies, etc., has been aroused in countries as far afield as Russia. The natunu is called kenikeni in parts of Bua. I am indebted to Mr. W.L.P. for the alternate native name, etc. See kenikeni.
The leaves of this plant are valued as a very superior kind of laxative.
Fijian name unknown. Dr. Wilder says this weed grows rather freely in cane-fields and in grass-land. It has apparently been introduced, and as it belongs to a poisonous family, it should be exterminated, especially where it grows amid pasture-grass, as it is probably prejudical to the cows and through them to their milk.
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