Planchonella costata (Tawapou)
Species: P. costata
Binomial name: Planchonella costata
Synonyms: Pouteria novo-zelandica, Pouteria costata, Achras costata,
Sideroxylon costatum, Sersalisia costata, Pouteria costata, Mimusops laurina, Achras novozelandica,Achras novo-zelandica, Sideroxylon novo-zelandicum, Planchonella novo-zelandica, Pouteria costata var. austro-montana, Sapota costata, Achras costata
Common name: Tawapou
Planchonella costata which is strictly coastal is naturally found locally on islands and headlands along the northern coasts of the North Island, from North Cape to Tolaga Bay on the east coast, but only as far as the Kawhia Harbour in the west. It is also present on Norfolk Island.
Planchonella costata grows growing in association with pōhutukawa, karaka and taraire. It grows from sea level to about 450 m, always close to the sea.
P. costata is fairly slow growing, closely branched tree that prefers coastal conditions. It grows up to 8–15 m or more tall with a trunk up to 1 m in diameter. It prefers semi-shade, and is frost tender.
The bark is rough and varies in colour from grey to brownish-grey.
The leathery, glossy green leaves measure from 5 to 10 cm (sometimes up to 15 cm) long and 2 to 5 cm wide. The main vein in the centre of the leaf is distinct above and below, as are the primary veins on each side of it, which number from 14 to 20. The branchlets and leaf stems are covered with fine flattened hairs.
Small, greenish flowers (4-6 mm in diameter) are followed by bright red berries (2.5–4 cm long) which contain 2 or 4 hard, curved, polished seeds. These glossy seeds were used as necklaces by the Maori.
The fruit are consumed by the kererū, the New Zealand pigeon, and the kākā parrot. The fruit and seeds of P. costata are also very palatable to rats. Research in New Zealand has shown that the eating of the fruit and the destruction of the seeds by kiore (Pacific rats) has substantially reduced the population of the tree and significantly altered the composition of coastal forest of the northern North Island. Tawapou is common on rodent-free offshore islands in the Hauraki Gulf, around the Coromandel Peninsula, Great Barrier Island, and on the Mokohinau, Poor Knights, Hen & Chickens and Three Kings Islands.
The white-coloured wood is hard and durable and the Māori use Tawāpou logs as rollers to help bring large canoes onshore.
For more details visit: http://nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.asp?ID=2227