Know the native trees in Tawa reserves with Gil Roper – Geniostoma ligustrifolium var. ligustrifolium,  Hangehange, Māori privet


A common shrub up to 3m high, it is commonly found at the edge of bush and along the tracks. Leaves are oppositely positioned along the slender, brittle stems.

The oval, elongated and soft, shiny lettuce-green leaves have ‘drip tips’ at the end.

Source of names:

Genus: genio = hairy and stoma = mouth. The corolla (petal) tube has a hairy throat.

species: ligustrum = ‘privet’, folium = ‘leaf’, meaning ‘privet-leaved’.


Flowers and fruit

In Spring, the creamy-green-coloured flowers have a musky smell, while nearing Autumn, green seed capsules form and eventually turn black. When mature, the dry black capsules burst open to reveal black seeds that are compressed in an orange gel. Nectar and seeds are consumed by birds such as hihi (stitchbird) and tauhou (silvereye).

Māori use

To increase the flavour of food, Māori used leaves of hangehange wrapped around food (such as roots of kumara and tī kōuka) prior to steaming them in the hāngī. Crushed leaves were boiled in water and applied to skin to ease itchiness, while bark was beaten to produce a black dye.

hangehange leaves
Hangehange leaves

Article Source: Gil Roper FOTBR Newsletter April 2022

Published by Friends of Tawa Bush

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