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Tree Botanics

Rewarewa Previous


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Other Names: (Knightia excelsa) New Zealand Honeysuckle

Also known widely as the NZ Honeysuckle, rewarewa, member of the Proteacea family is an extremely common tree throughout the northern half of New Zealand in lowland and sub-alpine forests of the North island.  It ranges from sea level up to 850m This tall tapering tree can reach heights of up to 30m, the trunk attaining up to 1m in diameter.  Easily recognised by its tall, columnar appearance, the smooth bark is grey and sometimes dark brown in colour (ranging through to almost black in some cases).  Branched are typically close to the main stem, parallel and upright in aspect.  The young branchlets are often covered in dark, rusty-brown tomentum (pubescence consisting of longish, soft, entangled hairs pressed close to the surface.). Amongst many distinctive identifying features of the rewarewa are the alternate, narrow & tough, long-stalked leaves.  Coarsely toothed they can be between 10cm - 25cm long, dull green in colour but sometimes of a rusty colouration, densely clothed with reddish-brown velvety hairs on the undersides of younger leaves.  On adult trees the leaves appear smaller, between 10cm - 15cm in length, the margins again coarsely toothed and somewhat undulating. The distinctive reddish-brown flowers are produced between October - November in lateral racemes (a simple indeterminate inflorescence in which the flowers are borne on short pedicels (a small stalk) lying along a common axis, as in the lily of the valley) up to 10cm long.  Tuis and bellbirds assist in cross-pollination as a result of the nectarous flowers, the reason for the more common New Zealand Honeysuckle name.  The perianth segments (the envelope of a flower, whether calyx - (the outermost group of floral parts; the sepals) -  or corolla - (the inner envelope of floral leaves of a flower, usually of delicate texture and of some color other than green; the petals considered collectively,  or both) , are coiled into a tangled mass.  Fruits form & ripen during the following 12 - 14 months when clusters of dry, rusty red pods split and release the seeds. The timber is very attractively grained and widely used for inlay and ornamental work.