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


Fuchsia excorticata (Tree Fuchsia)

Kingdom:Plantae 
Division:Magnoliophyta 
Class:Magnoliopsida 
Order:Myrtales
Family:Onagraceae 
Genus:Fuchsia 
Species: F. excorticata  "with peeling bark".
Binomial name Fuchsia excorticata
Common name: Tree fuchsia, Kotukutuku, New Zealand Fuchsia

Fuchsia excorticata, the New Zealand Fuchsia also known as Kotukutuku, is a New Zealand native tree belonging to the family Onagraceae forming a tree to 15 metres with a trunk to 0.6 metres in diameter. It is found commonly throughout New Zealand and as far south as the Auckland Islands. It grows from sea level up to about 1,000 m, particularly alongside creeks and rivers.
Fuchsia excorticata is considered to be the world’s largest fuchsia. It is one of New Zealand’s few truly deciduous trees, losing its leaves in winter in all but the warmest areas.
Attractive, small flowers appear between August and December. They change from greenish-yellow to purple-red.These flowers are rich in nectar and are visited by honey-eating birds, especially tūī, bellbirds and silvereyes. The dark purple berries, known as kōnini by Māori, are edible and taste like tamarillos.

Fuchsia excorticata are easily recognised in their native environment by the characteristic appearance of their bark, which peels spontaneously, hanging in red papery strips to show a pale bark underneath.  The introduction of Common Brushtail Possum to New Zealand has precipitated a serious decline in this species where large concentrations of the possum are present. Kotukutuku appears to be one of the possum's preferred food sources and they will browse individual trees to the point of defoliation and the trees will die.

The berry (konini) is sweet and juicy and it was also used by European settlers to make jam and puddings. Tui and wood pigeon feed on the berries which have lots of very tiny seeds. Fruit is edible and tastes like a very mild grape. Maori called the fruit konini and the name is sometimes given to the tree.





Flowers of the tree fuschia








Leaves in a dry season.


Top surface of a leaf.


The whitish underside of the leaves.




The red barked trunks of Fuchsia excorticata