JANUARY 2007

A POHUTUKAWA TREE IN NEW ZEALAND

Pohutukawa are known as New Zealand's native Christmas tree because of the bright red blooms which
decorate the trees during the Christmas/summer season. They trigger memories of long summer days and
holidays spent with friends and family in, or around and under these magnificent trees.

Pohutukawa and rata belong to the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) which is made up of about 3000 different
tropical and warm temperate trees, shrubs and vines. Eucalyptus, feijoas, cloves, guavas and bottlebrushes.

In New Zealand myrtles are represented by some of our best known plants: kanuka, manuka and some less
familiar, but nevertheless significant like swamp maire and ramarama.

Both pohutukawa and rata belong to the genus Metrosideros, the iron hearted myrtles, a reference to
their hard, very heavy, dark red heartwood.

There are two native pohutukawa (mainland and Kermadec) and six species of rata vine, a shrub and
three tree rata.

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Close up of the red blooms - Click on the small picture to enlarge

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