(N. arboreum), Five Finger.
In lowland forests throughout the country this is probably the most common small tree, though in some places it is tending to disappear because it is relished by introduced deer. A rapidly growing shrub or tree seldom exceeding 25 ft in height, it is much branched and round-headed and frequently grows as an epiphyte on tree ferns. The leaves are divided into five to seven leaflets, each of which is separately stalked and 3–7 in. long, obovate, and sharply toothed. The male and female flowers are on separate trees, and although small are borne in large compound umbels. The fruit is small and black.
Although Neopanax is found only in New Zealand, the family to which it belongs, the Araliaceae, is a widespread and mainly tropical one. Neopanax itself has five species, one of which is closely related to N. arboreum. This is N. colensoi which could be considered the mountain form of N. arboreum. It is similar in many respects except that it is lower growing and the leaflets are three-to five-foliate.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.