Tiare Tahiti

Botanical name Gardenia tahitensis/ Gardenia taitensis DC
Family Rubiaceae
Usual    Name Tiare, Tahitian gardenia
Polynesian names

Pua (Samoa),
Siale (Tonga, Futuna, Niue), 
Tiale (Tuvalu) 
Tiare Maori (Cook) 
Bua (Fiji)
Tiare Tahiti (Tahiti)

Distribution :

An endemic variety in Tahiti. It can be found in the islands of the South Pacific: Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga…

Description / habitat :

A shrub (maximum 6 meters high) with diagonal, elliptical leaves 10 to 15 cm in length which prefers to develop on coral-based soils. Its flowers are shiny white and give off a suave sui generis fragrance.

Fruit is rare. The Tiare Tahiti develops according to a cycle specific to French Polynesia : flowering without fruit from September to April.

History :

It is the emblem, the « national flower » of Tahiti and her Islands.

It has spread to the Tuamotu Islands, the Marquesas, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu (from where it might have originated?)… brought along by the Polynesians during their migrations. It has developed thanks to the action of man (Marcoting)

It is the common “finishing touch” and the “mysterious go-between of indigenous gallantry” (flowers behind the ear, leis, head garlands...)

The use of Monoi (mascerating Tiare Flowers in coconut oil) is part of Polynesian traditions (skin and hair care)

Chemical composition (2-4) :

Carbohydrates, tannins, resins, flavonoids, saponosides, 9,19-Cyclolanostane-3,23-dione,betamyrcene, benzoic acid, methyl bromide, betalinalool (30% of volatile compounds), geraniol, benzyl benzoate, citronnellol, Hexylcinnamal-dehyde, Linalool

Biological activity:

Analgésique (béta-Myrcène)
Antifongique, conservateur (Acide benzoïque)
Rubéfiante et anti inflammatoire (Salicylate de méthyle)
Nombreuses propriétés du béta-Linalool: antiseptique, antifongique, antiviral, insecticide, insectifuge, prooxydant...

Analgesic (beta-myrcene)
Antifungal, preservative (benzoic acid),
rubefacient and anti inflammatory (methyl salicylate),          
Many properties of beta-Linalool: antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, insectiside, insectifuge, prooxident.

Traditional uses :

The Tiare is the plant most used in Traditional Tahitian Medicine. Remedies, whether interior or exterior, always use the juice of fresh organs: flower buds (abcess, hemorroids..), opened out flowers (otorrhea, infected wounds...), leaves (sunburn...) From its birth onwards, a Tahitian baby is given massages with Monoi containing Tiare flowers.In the Cook Islands, one inhales the fragrance of the flowers to calm headaches...In Samoa, the leaves are part of a remedy to purify the blood in prenatal care, in the treatment of diabetes or again in children’s inflammations.The Tiare has no toxicity and can be eaten under the form of mascerations, at high doses


1) Pétard,P.,Plantes utiles de Polynésie, Raau Tahiti,(1986),Haere Po no Tahiti, 120-121.

2) Fiche de spécification,TIA/TIAPOUDOI Pacifique Sud 16/02/2001.

3) Sotheeswaran, S., et al., Phytochemistry, (1992), 31, (1), 159-162.

4) Bulletin d'analyses, Etude 04/0552, ANALYTEC, 02/06/2004

5) Whistler,W.A.,Polynesian Herbal Medecine,(1992),Everbest,Hong Kong,140-141.

Heiva Cosmétiques de Tahiti
BP330006  98711 PAEA TAHITI
Tél/Fax: (+689) 40 42 31 31
E-mail: tahitiansoap@mail.pf 
Tous droits réservés-2006
Ph. MAUNIER Pharmacien-Chimiste, Dr., Lauréat de l'Académie de Pharmacie.
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