T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Clianthus maximus (Kaka beak)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(Unranked):        Angiosperms
(Unranked):        Eudicots
(Unranked):        Rosids
Order:     Fabales
Family:   Fabaceae
Genus: Clianthus
Species:        C. maximus
Binomial name: Clianthus maximus
Common name: Clianthus Kaka King, Kakabeak, Kaka beak, Kowhai Ngutu-kaka 

Clianthus maximus is a woody legume shrub (5-6 m tall) native to New Zealand's NorthIsland. It is one of two species of Clianthus (Kaka beak) and both have striking clusters of red flowers which resemble the beak of the Kaka, a New Zealand parrot. The species is endangered in the wild and is listed as nationally critical (NZ TCS), with only 153 trees found in a 2005 survey (down from over 1000 in 1996), in the East Coast and northern HawkesBay regions. William Colenso described C. maximus in 1885, identifying it as distinct from C. puniceus, the other Kaka beak. However Thomas Kirk reduced C. maximus to a variety of C. puniceus (C. puniceus var. maximus) in 1899. Peter Heenan reinstated C. maximus as a separate species in 2000. Prior to the 1990s, C. maximus was rarely cultivated, most stock available for cultivation being C. puniceus (then C. puniceus var. puniceus). C. maximus is now widely grown and has generally replaced C. puniceus in cultivation. In the wild it found along the tops and bases of unstable cliff faces or rock falls. Some habitats may not be natural, as this species, was said to have been grown by Maori, and many inland associations occur in the vicinity of former pa, kainga, gardens or canoe haul outs. 

The leaflets (150-300 mm) are dark green with an upper surface that is shiny. The flowers (80 mm) are a bright scarlet and appear between August and January. C. maximus is closely related to C. puniceus which have mat-green foliage, whose upper leaf surface is often slightly glaucous in colour. C. puniceus flowers are slightly smaller. 

For more detailed information visit http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.asp? ID=59


The shiny leaves of C. maximus

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/