- History and Culture
Evergreen shrub that can reach 8 m high. Very branched, often having a gnarled appearance, containing little latex. The bark is cracked with a gray-brown hue, the young branches are covered with a fine rust-gray down. Leaves are arranged spirally, elliptically and obovate, obtuse at the base, with a complete margin and obtuse apex. The inflorescence is in the axils of the leaves and along the young stems, the flowers are generally bisexual, of a reddish green, and grouped in axillary fascicles or clusters. The fruit is a globose berry, which is smooth, juicy and sticky, turning black purple at maturity. It contains only one seed.
This endemic species of Mauritius is an intermediate forest tree. It is a rare component of native vegetation groves. It is sometimes found in higher elevation forests, along rivers and on ridges. It tolerates shade and windy places. The flowers are pollinated by birds, flies and geckos and the fruit are scattered by bats and birds.
The species is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List. The plant is protected under the forest restoration project and in the reserves. It is very difficult to find seedlings in the wild. The population is declining due to habitat loss and the invasion of exotic species.
The flowers (florum), are without peduncle and are glued to the branches (sessili), hence the scientific name of sessiliflorum.
Its wood has been extensively used in the past; as beams for buildings and in the construction of boats and bridges. It has also been used as firewood and for the manufacture of coal. This use has undoubtedly been an important factor in its depletion.
The first sample of the plant was collected by Karl Friedrich von Gaertner, a German botanist, in 1807.