Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Mamangi ~ Mämängi
Morinda myrtifolia (Rubiaceae) [and possibly plants of similar appearance] .
PROTO POLYNESIAN, probably originally denoting a tough vine with green, prominently veined leaves.


Although the plants which have inherited this name belong to three different families (those at opposite ends of the settlement continuum -- Tonga and Aotearoa -- are united botanically by common membership in the coffee family), and two (the Tongan and Samoan ones) are vines and the others trees, they are linked on a number of dimensions. Firstly there is a similarity in leaf form -- the Samoan mamagi could easily be taken for a Coprosma when not in flower, and the Hawaiian mamane, although closely related to the köwhai, has much larger and more solid leaflets than the New Zealand members of the genus Sophora, up to 5 cm. long and 2.5 cm (an inch) wide. Seen from a distance, it does have a resemblance in form to the New Zealand Coprosmas. All these plants are pretty tough -- the Hawaiian mamane and its counterparts in Aotearoa especially so (I took the closeup of the leaves of a mamane tree growing at 9,000 feet and the one of the whole tree at 10,000 feet on the slopes of the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawai'i).

The Tongan mamange is also known as fufula, and an infusion of the bark is a remedy for stomach aches. The name mamange is also given to a set of varieties of the yam, Dioscorea alata. The Samoan mamagi, Faradaya amicorum, is known in Hawaii as mamalupe.


Tongan: mamange (Morinda myrtifolia [Rubiaceae])
Samoan: mamagi (Faradaya amicorum [Verbinaceae])
Hawaiian: mamane (Sophora chrysophylla [Fabaceae])
Maori: Mämängi (Coprosma repens & C. arborea [Rubiaceae])

Mamange - Morinda myrtifolia (Tonga)


Mamagi - Faradaya amicorum
Mämängi - Coprosma repens
(Te Mära Reo)
Mamane - Sophora chrysophylla
(Mauna Kea, Hawai'i)
Mamane - Sophora chrysophylla
(Mauna Kea, Hawai'i)

Sources: Tracking down the referents of the Tongan and Samoan names was difficult because the dictionary definitions were vague. However, these two sources provided answers:
D.R. Drake, W. A. Whistler, T.J. Motley & C.T. Imada, "Rainforest vegitation of 'Eua Island, Kingdom of Tonga", NZ Journal of Botany, Vol 34, 1996, p. 76;
W. Arthur Whistler, The Ethnobotany of Tonga: The Plants, Their Tongan Names and Their Uses, Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1991, p. 82.

Photographs: Morinda myrtifolia (Photo - W. Arthur Whistler) www.cieer.org/efloras/samoa/tn_Morinda%20myrtifolia.jpg
Faradaya amicorum: (Botany Dept., University of Hawaii at Mänoa) http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/basch/uhnpscesu/htms/npsapln2/fish_pops/verbena/faramicor.htm

Other photographs by RB.

There are galleries of photographs and further information about the Hawaiian mamane Sophora chrysophylla on these two sites:

Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License.