Tagimaucia (Medinilla waterhousei)

Tagimaucia (Medinilla waterhousei)

The Tagimaucia (Medinilla waterhousei) is a liana (woody vine), that forms thickets high up in the canopy, much similar to the growth of the duva, Derris trifoliata.

Also known as: Tagimaucia

Local Names: Tagimaucia, Tekitaki vuina

 

Description

The Tagimaucia is a liana (woody vine), that forms thickets high up in the canopy, much similar to the growth of the duva, Derris trifoliata. The inflorescences occur on the stems or in association with the leaves. The flowers are very striking with white petals and filaments; rich purple anthers; yellow basal lobes, and inflorescence branches and bracts that are scarlet or deep red in colour. The leaves of the Tagimaucia grow in a similar manner to that of Mikania micrantha (mile-a-minute or wabosucu) in that the leaves begin from the start of the stem.

Distribution

This beautiful endemic flowering vine has a limited distribution, restricted to the higher parts of Taveuni, particularly within the forests on the slopes leading up to Lake Tagimaucia and the upper slopes of Mt. Seatura, Bua, Vanua Levu.

 Medinilla waterhousei, Tagimaucia, Crater Lake, Taveuni, Fiji Photo Paddy Ryan

Medinilla waterhousei, Tagimaucia, Crater Lake, Taveuni, Fiji Photo Paddy Ryan

Habitat Ecology and Behaviour

The Tagimaucia occurs within dense forest from an elevation of 660-1241m. It creeps along the canopy of the forest, with its flowers hanging down when in bloom. Unlike other vines such as the invasive Merremia peltata, the Tagimoucia neither smothers its host plant nor is it parasitic. The Tagimaucia is not a threat to the survival of the host, only using it for support.

The Tagimaucia appears to be in flower for much of the year; those who frequent the trail to Lake Tagimaucia suggest that it is in full bloom in the last few months of the year.

Threats

Its restricted range to the forests of Taveuni and Mt Seatura, Bua is a threat to the survival of this endemic plant. This restricted range and therefore small populations mean that natural disasters and logging activities that destroy the forest and habitat, can affect the survival of the Tagimaucia by upsetting its phenology and regeneration. Frequent human visitations into the forest to pick the flowers are also a threat to the plant as they bring along with them seeds of invasive plants hitchhiking on their shoes and clothes. These invasive plants could out-compete the host species of the Tagimaucia. The picking of the flowers also means that they do not have a chance to develop further for regeneration.

Conservation Status

Despite its popularity, the status of the population and the ecology of the Tagimaucia are poorly known. Without basic information such as the extent of its distribution on Taveuni and Mt Seatura, and its main pollinators, we cannot for certain determine the conservation status of this endemic flower.

Remarks and Cultural Significance

Despite its popularity, the status of the population and the ecology of the Tagimaucia are poorly known. Without basic information such as the extent of its distribution on Taveuni and Mt Seatura, and its main pollinators, we cannot for certain determine the conservation status of this endemic flower.

References

Smith (1985);

Tuiwawa, M. (personal communication).

Front Page Photo: Paddy Ryan