Clianthus puniceus (Kaka Beak)
Binomial name: Clianthus puniceus
Common name: Kaka beak tree, Parrot's Beak, Parrot's Bill, Lobster Claw
Clianthus puniceus the Kaka Beak tree is an endangered native tree of New Zealand. It is a woody legume shrub native to New Zealand's North Island. It is one of two species of Clianthus (Kaka beak), both of which have striking clusters of red flowers which resemble the beak of the Kaka, a New Zealand parrot. There is also a variety with white to creamy coloured flowers.
This species is critically endangered in the wild, known only on Moturemu Island in the Kaipara Harbour. It was previously widely grown as a garden plant, but has generally been replaced by the more robust Clianthus maximus.
Kaka beak grows to around two metres high, with spreading branches producing leaf stalks up to 15 cm long bearing several pairs of small leaflets. They usually flower from spring through to early summer, but can flower twice a year or even year round.
Kaka Beak was used by the Maori to feed caged Tui's. These native birds were kept in captivity to attract and capture other birds. The bright red flowers are held in groups from arching stems, well clear of the delicate fern like foliage. Each flower holds copious nectar at the base of the flower attracting Tui’s & other nectar loving birds. It flowers from early spring for several months.
This Kaka Beak tree was photographed (August) from the footpath outside Te Kainga Marire Native gardens, Spencer Place. New Plymouth.
The seed pod (February)