*Fau [Proto Polynesian]


Pseudopanax arboreus (Araliaceae)


Alternative names: whau, whaupaku, whauwhaupaku, houhou, puahou, from Proto-Polynesian *Fau; parapara, tauparapara, from Proto-Polynesian *Pala

Primary name and most alternative names from reduplicated forms of Proto Polynesian *Fau Hibiscus tiliaceus "Beach hibiscus" (Malvaceae);
the other names are reduplicated forms of Proto Polynesian: *Pala "a species of tree fern" .

whauwhau flowers
Male flowers of Pseudopanax arboreus - Whauwhau
Photograph (c) Jeremy Rolfe, NZPCN
Whauwhau seed
Seed capsules of Pseudopanax arboreus - Whauwhau
Photograph (c) Wayne Bennett, NZPCN

Tongan, Samoan, Tahitian : fau (Hibiscus tiliaceus, Malvaceae)
Tokelau: fau (Hibiscus tiliaceus, Malvaceae; Pipturus argenteus, Urticaceae)
Hawaiian, Marquesan, Tahitian, Rennellese: hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus, Malvaceae)
Rarotongan: 'au (Hibiscus tiliaceus, Malvaceae)

Whau (Entelea arborescens, Tiliaceae & Pseudopanax arboreus, Araliaceae); Para (Ptisana salicina, Marattiaceae, and some other plants)
Note: See the other linked page/s (highlighted at the top of this page) for more information about the ancestral names, their modern descendents, and the plants they denote.

Watch this space! This is a page still very much under construction, but which contains the essential linguistic and botanical information, and to which both text and pictures will be added progressively as soon as time permits. See the "News" for February 2016 for more information.

The names by which this tree is known are quite a puzzle. They do seem to be derived from the Proto Polynesian names for the beach hibiscus, *fau, and a species of fern, *pala, both of which are represented in the New Zealand flora by other plants whose similarity to their Polynesian counterparts is easily discerned. It is much harder, however, to see how Pseudopanax arboreus fits into this picture, and yet there must have been something about this tree that inspired an early NZ Polynesian taxonomist to confer one or other of these names on it.

References and further reading: See linked pages and general works on NZ trees in the bibliography. There is also a page devoted to this tree on the NZ Plant Conservation Network's web site.

Photographs: Photographs by kind permission of Wayne Bennett and Jeremy Rolfe, NZ Plant Conservation Network.

Pseudopanax arboreus - Whauwhau
Photograph (c) Wayne Bennett, NZPCN
Whauwhau inflorescence
Inflorescence of Pseudopanax arboreus - Whauwhau
Photograph (c) Wayne Bennett, NZPCN

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