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KAVA (Macropiper excelsum )
Biodiversity > Plants > shrubs or bushes


Macropiper excelsum ssp. psittacorum      Kava         Family PIPERACEAE


A woody shrub to 1.5m high; glossy leaves, slightly aromatic and peppery. A common understorey plant of the lowlands, on both soil types but well adapted to sandy soil, occasional plants on the mountains. The genus is distributed on islands of the south Pacific, Micronesia and New Zealand.

Petiole 2-4cm; leaves alternate, heart shaped, shortly pointed, 6-10cm across, 5-8cm long, 5 major veins; slightly peltate; soft textured, dark green, glossy on top. Flowers (Jul-Sep) minute without petals; male and female arranged in spikes on separate plants, usually twin spikes. Male in spikes to 16cm long, female to 8cm long; ovary ovoid with 4 sometimes 3 sessile stigmas. Fruit small, orange, fleshy berries, top flattened with a dimple in centre; arranged along the spikes 12mm diameter, soft and sweet when ripe in December and January. Seeds elongate, 2mm long; 4 lobed with deep furrows.


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