Metrosideros excelsa (Crimson Pohutukawa)
Species: M. excelsa
Scientific Name: Metrosideros excelsa
Common Names: Pohutukawa, New Zealand Christmas Tree.
The tree grows up to 20m in height, with a dome-like spreading form. Its natural range is the coastal regions of the North Island of New Zealand, The Pohutukawa flowers from November to January with a peak in mid to late December with brilliant crimson flowers covering the tree, hence the nickname New Zealand Christmas Tree. There is variation between individual trees in the timing of flowering, and in the shade and brightness of the flowers. In isolated populations genetic drift has resulted in local variation: many of the trees growing around the Rotorua lakes produce pink-shaded flowers, and the yellow-flowered cultivar "Aurea" descends from a pair discovered in 1940 on Motiti Island in the Bay of Plenty.
To the Maori its distinctive red flowers signalled the arrival of summer. The boiled juice of the inner bark could cure diarrhoea, and the nectar was good for sore throats. This was a coastal tree, and lower branches which curved down, but had not yet penetrated the ground to become roots, were ideal for one-piece fish hooks.
Crimson Pohutukawa (December) Lat 39 3' 7.029"S Long 174 5' 28.19E Datum WGS 84
The hanging roots of pohutukawa are aerial roots ---also known as adventitious roots. Some pohutukawa trees are more prone to producing them than others. The two trunks on the left are aerial roots that have touch the ground and are now rooted there. To enlarge click photo and click the new photo again.