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Volume 3, 1870
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Art. XXVII.—An Account of an Undescribed Pittosporum and Loranthus, in the Herbarium of the Colonial Museum, Wellington.

[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, August 20, 1870.]

In the course of an examination of the copious Herbarium of the Colonial Museum, several undescribed plants have come under my notice, two of which, at the request of my valued friend, Dr. Hector, I now attempt to describe.

Pittosporum Ralphii, Kirk. n. s.

A laxly-branched shrub, 8 to 12 feet in cultivation, with dark brown bark, young branches tomentose. Leaves alternate, coriaceous, tomentose beneath, especially when young, slightly narrowed and irregular at the base, obtuse or slightly acuminate, 2″-3″ long, on rather long slender petioles. Flowers in terminal 3–8-flowered umbels, peduncles ½″-⅛″, tomentose, decurved in fruit; sepals linear, obtuse tomentose; petals narrow recurved; capsules rounded, 3-lobed and valved, never downy.

Hab.—Patea District,* Dr. Ralph. Allied to P. crassifolium, Banks and Sol., and to P. umbellatum, Banks and Sol., in its slender spreading branches, oblong leaves, and rounded capsules; from P. crassifolium it differs in addition, in the larger leaves, which are much less coriaceous and tomentose, never narrowed into the petiole, in the truly umbellate inflorescence, short peduncles, small smooth capsules and seeds; from P. umbellatum, in the tomentose leaves

[Footnote] * Since the above was written, Mr. W. J. Palmer, of Auckland, informs me that he has seen this plant on the Great Barrier Island.

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and young shoots, small umbels, short peduncles, 3-valved capsules and large seeds. In habit and foliage it approaches P. Huttonianum, but that species has erect, axillary, pyriform capsules.

The preceding description is drawn partly from specimens in the Colonial Museum, and partly from recent cultivated specimens from gardens in Wellington. I am informed that it was brought from the neighbourhood of Patea by Dr. Ralph, whose name I have much pleasure in connecting with it.

It seems probable that this species is confused with P. crassifolium in the Handbook, but it is more closely allied to P. umbellatum. P. crassifolium is distinguished from all other New Zealand species by its large, usually solitary decurved fruit, and leaves gradually narrowed into the petioles.

Loranthus decussatus, Kirk. n. s.

In the “Account of the Botany of the Thames Gold Field,” published in the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Vol. ii., p. 94, I have mentioned a Loranthus found without flower or fruit, and parasitic on Quintinia serrata, as likely to prove a new species. A careful examination of specimens of the same plant in the Herbarium, tends to confirm that opinion.

An erect, much branched, rigid shrub, young branches flattened, red; leaves erect, decussate, close set, ovate or elliptic, ½″–¾″ long, rarely deltoid; midrib not prominent, nerveless, fleshy, yellow, becoming red when dry; flowers axillary in opposite 2–4-flowered racemes, erect, shortly pedicelled, calyx with 4 minute teeth; corolla terete; petals linear, free, recurved at the tips; anthers linear.

Hab.—Cape Colville Peninsula, T. K. (on Quintinia serrata); Nelson, H. H. Travers (on Fagus).

Distinguished from other New Zealand species by its remarkable habit, small size and yellow foliage; most closely allied to L. tetrapetalus, Forst., from which it is separated by its racemed flowers. The parasite is often adherent to the supporting plant, by shoots of 3 or 4 feet in length.

I would take this opportunity of expressing my regret that greater attention cannot be paid to the Herbarium, on account of the limited resources at the command of the Director of the Museum. This collection of plants is unequalled in the colony for the extensive suites of specimens of rare and local plants, and it is to be deeply regretted that so rich a mass of material is not made fully available for the use of the student. The want of sufficient space for its due arrangement, and the impossibility under existing arrangements of affording the requisite time for its supervision, are serious drawbacks to its efficiency, alike to the scientific student and the settler seeking for general information. It is highly desirable that the requisite means should be supplied to place it on a proper footing, and to increase its value by the addition of

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separate typical collections of drug-yielding plants, grasses and other agricultural plants, and others useful in the arts and manufactures, which, in addition to their phytological interest, would prove of the greatest value to the community as means of education and information.