Makomako, a shrub or small tree growing up to 30 ft high, frequently occurs in thickets following the burning or felling of native bush. In a natural state it is found in open lowland or montane forest throughout North, South, and Stewart Islands. Along with tea tree (Leptospermum), it is a plant that has increased greatly as a result of settlement. There is one other shrubby species of Aristotelia, A. fruticosa, in New Zealand. Both species are endemic, but the genus is represented in Australia, New Hebrides, and South America. The family to which it belongs, the Elaeocarpaceae, is a small one, mainly tropical.
Makomako has opposite leaves on long, slender petioles. They are about ovate, up to 5 in. long, have sharp-pointed tips, and are thinnish and deeply and sharply toothed. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Both are small, reddish and fragrant, and are arranged in panicles. The fruit is a small, dark red or almost black berry.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.