Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
*Kalaka [Proto-Polynesian, from Proto Oceanic]



Streblus hederophyllus [formerly Paratrophis microphylla] (Moraceae)

Related inherited name: karaka (see separate page)


This tree is more commonly known as the türepo or "milk tree". Its alternative name, however, incorporates the inherited element karaka, and literally means "little karaka". This may well be a reference to the "original" karaka, i.e. one of the trees of the genus Planchonella (a.k.a. Pouteria) which are referred to by a reflex of Proto Oceanic *kalaka in many Oceanic languages.

The türepo is a tree with small, thick serrated leaves with conspicuous veins on the underside which show through to the upper surface; the veins are also visible on the upper surface, but otherwise the karakariki leaves are quite different from the large glossy green leaves of the Planchonella species and the New Zealand karaka, Corynocarpus laevigatus. However berries are like miniature versions of those of the other trees, and both the planchonellas and the türepo have a milky latex in their sap. Because of this, it is possible that the alternative name was given to Streblus heterophyllus in a direct reference to those parallels with the Planchonella species.

The türepo / karakariki grows to about 9 metres high, and prefers moist areas on the margins of the forest and along streams and riverbanks. The early European settlers in New Zealand found that its sap was a patatable substitute for milk in tea, hence the English name "milk tree".


zzzzzzKarakariki - juvenile foliage

PPN: *Kalaka Planchonella (Pouteria) spp. (Sapotaceae)
Mäori Reflexes: Karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus [Corynocarpaceae]) & Karakariki (Streblus heterophyllus [Moraceae])

Tongan: Kalaka (Planchonella grayana)
Niuean: Kalaka (P. grayana)
Samoan: Ala'a (P. garberi, & Chariessa samoensis [Icacinaceae])
Hawaiian: 'äla'a (P. sandwicensis)
Tuamotuan: Karaka (P. grayana)
Rarotongan: Karaka (P. grayana & Elaeocarpus rarotongensis [Elaeocarpaceae])

Further information: The NZ Plant Conservation Network has a page with information about the Turepo, including several photographs: http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/vascular_plants/detail.asp?PlantID=1345

Source of photograph: Te Mära Reo


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.