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Pollen and phytoliths in archaeological features from North Island, New Zealand, reveal landscape disturbance and cultivation of Polynesian introduced Cordyline cf. fruticosa (ti)

by Mark Horrocks last modified 2023-06-29 05:51 AM

Horrocks M, Bader H-D, Simmons A, Adamson J. 2022. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, doi: 10.1080/15564894.2022.2129883.


The study of pre-European Māori agriculture in New Zealand is hindered by lack of direct evidence in the form of plant remains. Presented here are results of pollen and phytolith analyses of three archaeological excavations, at Auckland Isthmus, Cambridge, and northern Taranaki.

All sites show landscape disturbance by people, and the discovery of pollen of the Māori introduced cultigen Cordyline cf. fruticosa (ti), suggesting that this species had a wide geographic range, well beyond that considered climatically limited by early ethnographic accounts. The pollen of C. fruticosa can be identified in the Pacific Islands, including New Zealand which has several endemic Cordyline species. The study describes this pollen type and reviews the locations and types of both macro- and microfossils of C. fruticosa previously reported in the Pacific Island region.


Plant microfossils, Pacific Islands, Māori, landscape disturbance, ancient agriculture, introduced plants.

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