English name: Karaka
Latin name: Corynocarpus laevigatus
Family: Corynocarpaceae - Corynocarpaceae
Origin: New Zealand
The karaka is an evergreen with raised or spreading branches. It grows to a height of 15 m., and its trunk may have a diameter of up to a meter. Its thick, leathery, glossy leaves, dark green on top and paler on the underside, have a length of 5 to 20 cm. and a width of 3 to 7 cm. The petioles are 1 to 1.5 cm. long. From August to November, the karaka produces stout, raised panicles of tiny flowers. Single flowers, 4 – 5 mm. in diameter; their colours range from a greenish cream to white or pale yellow. The oval fruit, with pale yellow or orange flesh, may be up to 25 to 46 mm. long and contains a single seed. Birds who eat the fruit disperse the seeds.
The flesh is edible if bitter, though fresh kernels contain a toxic alkaloid. Poisoning can cause violent convulsions and severe muscle spasms that may lead to permanent limb deformation. Several deaths have been recorded.
The flesh of the fruit is edible, though bitter, but the fresh seeds contain a toxic alkaloid. Poisoning can cause violent convulsions and severe muscle spasms that can lead to permanent deformation of limbs. Several fatal incidents have been recorded.