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

Metrosideros umbellata (Southern Rata) .

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Metrosideros
Species: M. umbellata
Scientific name: Metrosideros umbellata
Common name: Southern rata, Rata

The name Metrosideros means “iron-hearted” (from the Greek metra= middle and sideros = iron referring to the hardness of the timber, umbellata meaning “bearing umbels” an umbrella-shaped group of flowers originating from a single stem.
This is a shrub or tree up to 15 m tall or more that starts off on the ground. The trunk grows up to 1 m or more in diameter and is covered in a pale papery bark that peels off in strips. Southern rata has long pointed leaves that are very shiny on the upper surface. The leaves are longer than those of the Northern rata, but more closely resemble Northern rata than pohutukawa. The young foliage is a pleasing brown or purple in colour and the tree puts on a spectacular display of crimson flowers. An occasional yellow-flowered specimen can be found in Otira and Westland. Young leaves and branchlets are silky to the touch. The seed capsules are bigger than those of Northern rata. The timber is very similar to that of Northern rata and used in the same way.

Southern rata in flower March Arthurs Pass, South Island.

A tree photographed March on the Denniston Plateau.

New red leaves on Metrosideros umbellata.

Southern rata flowers 

New leaves changing to green.

The underside of the above leaves still showing a red colour. Note the conspicuous oil glands and the midrib
the only visible vein.

A mature leaf.

The underside of a mature leaf.

Southern rata trunk

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