The Entelea Page

Entelea arborescens R. Brown

Malvaceae Info (home)
Synonymy of Entelea


Entelea is a monotypic genus of malvaceous trees, endemic to New Zealand, closely related to the Sparrmannia of southern Africa and Madagascar, with remarkably light wood, large lime-like leaves, and prominent flowers, suitable for cultivation in moist warm temperate regions or under glass.


The genus was introduced by R. Brown in 1824. It is amongst the genera long included in Tiliaceae (lime family), but with the recognition that Tiliaceae is not a natural group, this is been subsumed in an enlarged Malvaceae (mallow family). Within Malvaceae Entelea is placed within tribe Sparrmannieae and subfamily Grewioideae. This position is confirmed by ndhF sequence data.

Entelea tahitiensis Nadeaud is Christiana vescoana Baill. Entelea palmata Lindl. is the same plant as Entelea pubescens Sweet and Sparrmannia palmata hort., and is probably as species of Sparrmannia.

Entelea arborescens R. Br.
English (New Zealand) Whau, New Zealand Mulberry, Corkwood, Cork Tree, New Zealand Cork
English (UK)Evergreen Lime
Estonian siilikpuu

Entelea arborescens is native to the North Island of New Zealand, including the Poor Knights and Three Kings islands, and to the northern parts of the South Island of New Zealand. It is found predominantly in coastal regions, but also in other lowland forest contexts. It is usually known by the Maori name, Whau, but names referring to the foliage or the wood are sometimes found.

It is a fast-growing, downy, evergreen shrub or small tree, reaching between 8 and 20 ft in height, with an upright-oval habit. The bark iz grey to light grayish brown, with round lenticels..

In common with nearly all malvaceous plants Entelea arborescens has alternate, stipulate foliage. It has large (4-8" long), obliquely cordate, 5–7-nerved, double-toothed, bright-green, leaves (hence the names New Zealand Mulberry and Evergreen Lime), borne on long petioles. The stipules are persistent. The flowers are borne profusely between early spring and mid-summer, in erect open, bracteate, umbellate cymes. They have 4 or 5 sepals and petals. They are 1" in diameter, scented, white, with a dense central spreading bunch of yellow stamens. The acuminate sepals are free, and the petals undulate. The brown seed capsules are about the 1.5cm long and bear 2.5cm long rigid bristles. They are 4–6-valved, and loculicidal.

Entelea arborescences has one of the lightest known woods, which may sometimes be lighter than balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) wood, and possess a specific gravity (density) less than that of cork. The wood is therefore used in applications where lightness is preeminent, such as fishing floats and marker buoys, or in the framework or fenders of small boats. The lightness of the wood gives rise to names such as Corkwood, Cork Tree and New Zealand Cork, though it should be noted that the name Corkwood is applied to several unrelated plants in various parts of the world.

The wood is pale brown in colour, and has indistinct growth rings. (Hence it is not possible to ascertain the age of specimens from growth rings.) Instead the wood shows bands of pith-like parenchyma, which isn fast growing trees may form complete or nearly complex rings. Several of these bands may be formed in a year. These bands are unlignified, a characteristic rare among trees, but shared with several other plants in Sparrmannieae (Apeiba, Heliocarpus, Sparrmannia, Triumfetta), and is presumably associated with the lightness of the wood. The rays of the wood of Entelea arborescence contains erect cells, which conform to the form of tile-cells of Pterospermum-type, except that some of them may contain reddish-brown contents. (Tile-cells are a form of cell found in the rays of the wood of a number of genera of Malvaceae, and not in the wood of any family of plants.) For a detailed description of the wood of Entelea arborescens see [5].

Entelea arborescens shares with Sparrmannia the trait of having "minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells".


Entelea arborescens is frost tender, tolerating up to 3°C of frost. It can be grown outdoors in mild climates (in the British Isles in sheltered localities in the south west), or in a conservatory or glasshouse. It can be grown in sun or light shade, preferring a rich, moist, loam. It is intolerant of drought.

Propagate from seed. Seed is available commercially.


  • photograph at New Zealand Tree Seeds
  • photograph at Piha
  • photograph at Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board
  • photograph at The New Zealand Site
  • Pests

    The introduced scale insect, olive scale or black scale, Saissetia oleae Olivier, is recorded on Entelea in New Zealand, as is latania scale, Hemiberlesia lataniae (Signoret) Cockerell.

    Synonyms: Synonyms of Entelea arborescens include Apeiba australis A. Rich., Entelea australis Walp. and Entelea sloaneoides Turcz.


    1. The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs, 6th edn (1991)
    2. Joseph Dalton Hooker, Handbook of the New Zealand flora (1867)
    3. NZERN
    4. International Plant Name Index
    5. Rajni N. Patel, Wood anatomy of the dicotyledons indigenous to New Zealand 17. Tiliaceae, New Zealand Journal of Botany 26: 337-343 (1988)


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    Malvaceae Info (home)
    Synonymy of Entelea

    © 2003, 2004, 2006 Stewart Robert Hinsley