One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of several New Zealand shrubs and small trees, chiefly with undulate, evergreen leaves; especially (a) Myrsine australis (family Myrsinaceae), with reddish twigs and bearing clusters of small white flowers and black berries; (b) (more fully "black mapau") Pittosporum tenuifolium (family Pittosporaceae), with black bark and light green leaves.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Joseph Hooker (1817–1911), botanist. From Maori māpau, māpou, in sense (a).
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