Pacific ironwood

Tahitian names

‘Aito, Toa

Interesting facts

The ancients called this tree "Toa", which also means "warrior". In the 19th century, the Pomary "took" this word and it became taboo.  The names of both the warrior and he tree has changed to "’Aito". The ‘Aito is known for its rot resistant, sturdy, and heavy wood. It is used in construction, and was once used in the manufacture of weapons (spears, clubs, etc.). This tree is very sacred and was planted around marae. It is the symbol of 'Oro, the god of war. Its reddish colored sap represents the blood of this god. Sculptures are carved into its wood in the likeness of 'Oro. Even though it looks like a conifer, it is in reality an angiosperm (a leafy or flowering plant) and not a gymnosperm (a cone bearing plant). This confusion is due to its leaves that are very fine and needle-like, but this tree very much produces flowers (males and females separated). It can grow more than 100 feet tall.



Biogeographical status Polynesian introduction
Life form tree
Abundance on Tetiaroa Common
Ecosystem on Tetiaroa mixed forest, beach
sources & credits

S: Society | T: Tuamotu | M: Marquesas | G: Gambier | A: Australs | FP: French Polynesia