Manual of the New Zealand Flora.
2. Peperomia, Ruiz and Pavon
2. Peperomia, Ruiz and Pavon.
Annual or perennial herbs, usually succulent. Leaves alternate or opposite or whorled, fleshy or more rarely membranous, often pellucid - dotted; stipules wanting. Spikes slender, terminal or axillary or leaf-opposed, solitary or fascicled. Flowers hermaphrodite, minute, sessile or sunk in the rhachis of the spike, bracteate; the bract frequently peltate. Perianth wanting. Stamens 2; filaments very short; anther-cells confluent. Ovary sessile, obtuse or acute, 1-celled; stigma usually penicillate; ovule solitary, erect. Fruit minute, indehiscent; seed with a membranous testa.
A large genus of about 400 species, widely spread in almost all tropical regions, but most plentiful in South America.
Leaves in whorls of 4, coriaceous when dry. Spikes terminal 1. P. reflexa. Leaves alternate, thin and membranous when dry. Spikes terminal and axillary 2. P. Endlicheri.
P. reflexa, A. Dietr. Sp. Plant, i. 180.—'Small, succulent, erect or spreading, much branched from the base, 4–9 in. high; branches deeply grooved when dry, pubescent at the nodes. Leaves in whorls of 3 or 4, rarely opposite, shortly petiolate or almost sessile, ¼–½ in. long, elliptic-rhomboidal or almost orbicular, obtuse, fleshy when fresh, coriaceous when dry, dark-green above, paler beneath, minutely punctate, young leaves beneath and petioles finely pubescent, veins obscure. Spikes slender, terminal, pedunculate, ¾–1½ in. long, dense-flowered; peduncle and rhachis pubescent. Bract orbicular-peltate, almost sessile. Ovary partly immersed in the rhachis, ovate, acute; stigma capitellate. Berry exserted, ovoid, reddish, 1/20 in. long.—Benth. Fl. Austral. vi. 206. P. novæ-zealandiæ, Col. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xxvii. (1895) 394. Piper æmulum, Endl. Prodr: Fl. Norfl. 36.
North Island: Woods near the East Cape, H. Hill!
I have only seen indifferent specimens of this, but there can be no doubt of its identity with P. reflexa, a plant found in most tropical countries, and which is common in some parts of Australia, also in Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.
P. Endlicheri, Miq. Syst. Pip. 102.—A small glabrous succulent herb 6–12 in. high; stems sparingly branched, prostrate and rooting at the base, ascending or erect above. Leaves alternate, shortly petiolate, ½–1¼ in. long, broadly obovate or elliptic-oblong, sometimes almost orbicular, rounded at the tip or rarely subacute, 3-nerved at the base, glabrous, very thick and fleshy when fresh, thin and often almost pellucid when dry. Spikes terminal and axillary, solitary, peduncled, 1–2 in. long. Bract orbicular-peltate. Ovary partly immersed; stigma discoid. Berry exserted or im-page 597mersed at the base.—P. Urvilleana, A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 356; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 324; Raoul, Choix, 42; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 228; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 254. Piper simplex, Endl. Prodr. Fl. Norfl. 37.
Kermadec Islands, North Island: On rocks and trees in damp shady places as far south as Taranaki and the northern portion of the Wellington Province. Flowers most of the year.
Also found in Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island. I suspect that Colenso's P. muricatulata (Trans. N.Z. Inst. xxvii. (1895) 393) is a large-leaved state, hut there are no specimens in his herbarium, and it is impossible to be sure from the description alone.