Family: Araliaceae

Of this genus of about 30 species of tropical and subtropical trees from New Zealand, Polynesia, Melanesia and Australia, only one is commonly cultivated.


M. sinclairii, New Zealand puka, can grow as tall as 8 m (26 ft), though it is sometimes grown as a pot plant. The large, attractive, glossy leaves radiate spirally from a single stem. They grow 30-50 cm (12-20 in) long and have pale, prominent veins. The yellow flowers and stem stalks are marked with brown. After flowering, grape-sized fruits are set. These are very slow to mature. A white and gold, variegated leaf form, known as 'Moonlight' is worth seeking out.


In frost-prone climates, merytas should be grown in an intermediate to warm greenhouse or conservatory in pots of soil-based potting compost. Provide good light but shade plant from direct sun, otherwise the leaves will scorch. Keep well watered through the growing season. Outdoors grow in a shady, sheltered spot with well-drained yet moist soil. Propagate from the black, fleshy seeds, or from semi-ripe cutting, in summer, both with bottom heat.


Zone 10.

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