Part III


Trees of Pitcairn - Part III

       1 December 2002                      40c, $1.00, $1.50, $3.00                            Mint and CTO           $5.90
                                                                                                                                          FDC           $6.90

Technical Details

Release Date :             1 December 2002
Denominations :           40c, $1.00, $1.50, $3.00
Stamp Design :            Donna McKenna, Wellington, NZ
Printer :                       Joh Enschede, The Netherlands
Process   :                  Offset Lithography
Paper :                        Sopal Stimat 110gsm
Stamp Size :                38.89mm x 38.89mm triangular
Perforation Gauge :     13 x 13.25
Sheet    :                     50 triangular stamps per sheet
First Day Cover  :       $6.90

The first Pitcairn Trees issue was released on 6 October 1984. Trees II was issued on 10 August 1987.  Trees III  features trees chosen for their fragrance and practical and, or historical use.

The 40c stamp features Aleurites mouccana known on Pitcairn as the Dudwi Nut.  The nuts are high in oil content and were used for lighting.  The nuts were sometimes strung on niau or strips of coconut frond to make a rama (rumma) or candlenut torch.  The expression to “go rama” refers to going fishing by torchlight.    The early settlers on Pitcairn used to bundle the nuts in a pile, burn them and then use the charcoal to dye their Tapa cloth clothing.  Dudwi is also used as a laxative.  The timber is reasonably soft and flexible  and in the early days, it was pit-sawn to be used as cladding on the outside walls of houses.  It had good lasting qualities until the white-ant termite became established on Pitcairn.

The $1.00 stamp features the Toa (Tau) or Cordia subcordata, a tree with attractive orange flowers and pale green leaves.  It is found throughout the Pacific and in Africa and IndoMalaysia.  Its soft durable but oily wood contains light and dark bands, almost white on the outer band and darker toward the heart.  Although there are a few trees on Pitcairn, most of it comes from Henderson Island.  Toa makes excellent timber for carving.

Miro Thespesia populnea shown on the $1.50 stamp is the most widely used timber on Pitcairn for carving.  Its heartwood is deep red-brown while its sapwood is almost white in colour.  It is fine grained and durable, its oily properties making it quite water-resistant.  Miro has a yellow flower and grows to around 15 metres, quite rapidly in Pitcairn’s rich volcanic soil but somewhat slower on Henderson and Oeno, where the soils are predominantly sandy.  In the early days, Miro was burned under the large salt pans down by the sea when Pitcairners produced their own salt.

Hulianda Cerbera manghas is featured on the $3.00 stamp. This tree with its attractive, fragrant, white blossoms is mainly found in South East Asia but has been introduced to many of the Pacific Islands.  Its mango-shaped fruit is extremely poisonous if ingested.  The timber was once used for building but now is commonly found as a mould upon which Panama hats are woven.

Meralda Warren of Pitcairn Island has again assisted with the information presented in this bulletin.  The issue is the first of ours to be illustrated by Donna McKenna.  It is available as single sets of four triangular-shaped stamps or on First Day Covers.