Alectryon excelsus. Tītoki.
"This tree bears a singular looking fruit more agreeable to the eye than to the taste, ... having a black seed in the centre, from which the natives extract an oil; the fruit is sweet, but has a very rough taste."(Taylor 1847)
Fruit tart, though edible. "In the south, the fruit is called titoki, and the tree topitopi." (Taylor 1855)
"... a sweet fruit, but a little sharp" (Servant 1973).
Flavour described as slightly acid, rather rough to taste, exciting saliva. Fine oil (Allom, in Earp 1853).
Fine oil expressed from the seed (Taylor 1855).
Method of extracting oil described in Brett"s Guide.
Timber used to make light axe handles (Colenso 1868a)
Oils valued for armourer, watchmaker. (Reed and Brett"s 1874) Anointing oil (Colenso 1868a)
Timber tree, used like Ash. Wheelwrights. Shipwrights. (Colenso 1868a) (N.B. - Details on colonial timber uses generally not part of this database)
Green oil used for wounds, sores, chafed skin, bruises, painful joints, weak eyes, into ear for earache. Internal use as laxative. Red pulp relieves bloodspitting in consumptives ( Brett's Guide 1883; Goldie 1904).
Berries "a great remedy" (Gower 1940).
Related pharmacology in Brooker, Cambie and Cooper 1987.
See Riley 1994 for information on medicinal uses of related plants elsewhere in the world.
Chemical compounds in leaves, bark and seed oil listed in Cambie 1976, with references.
Suspected of poisoning stock (Allan 1944)
Colenso explains: The tītoki... only bore fruit plentifully (according to them) every fourth year; so that, in that year, all hands could use the oil and a little red pigment, and thus, for once, look like a chief without being so." (Colenso 1879: 128)
Pole of green tītoki used in making a kind of sling, tipao. Used to make roria or Jew"s harp (Best 1925)