Follow us on:
This member of the Araliaceae family goes through various distinct stages within its life cycle, however in its long-lasting juvenile stage is perhaps one of the most distinctive and interesting of New Zealand's native trees. It is common throughout New Zealand in lowland and subalpine forests ascending from sea level to 760m. The Lancewood is a small round-headed tree reaching heights of up to 15m high, with a trunk diameter of up to 50cm, typically branchless up to the crown. The trunk is distinctly fluted with a corrugated appearance to the bark on younger trees, grey in colour and smooth to the touch. Juvenile trees have slender trunks clothed with long, very narrow elongated leaves (up to 90cm in length) that deflex downwards. They appear dark green with yellow or orange midribs & are distinctly toothed along their margins. The juvenile stage can last between 15 - 20 years in total before the mature adult form is assumed. When the Lancewood does begin to show adult form, branching occurs at the top, whilst leaves simultaneously shorten at the trunk, progressively over time. In this mature stage the leaves range between 10 - 20cm in length & also become broader, being 2 - 4cm wide. They appear dull green on top & pale underneath, alternate with no hairs and short-stemmed. As adulthood develops the lancewood becomes a round headed tree. As with the other members of this genus its green flowers are borne in compound umbels (a flat-topped or rounded flower cluster in which the individual flower stalks arise from about the same point, as in the geranium, milkweed, onion, and chive) appearing form January - March in large terminal bunches. Lancewood is dioecious ( Having the male and female reproductive organs borne on separate individuals of the same species). The male flower having 5 petals, the female with a 4 - 5 celled ovary. Its fruits are globular, smooth & are purple ripening to black over a period of 12 months. It is less commonly known as Horoeka. The toothed species of Lancewood (Pseudopanax ferox) is a smaller tree reaching heights of only 6m maximum, with a more scattered distribution throughout the North & South Island. It passes through several juvenile stages as with crassifolius except its leaves are shorter, no more than 45cm long; they vary from a dark blackish-green to a deep olive green with orange or yellow midribs. of course as the name suggests, they are coarsely and harshly toothed. Adult leaves have entire margins with a few teeth originating towards their tips. Fruits & flowers appear similarly to its crassifolius relative. Toothed Lancewood occurs in the North from Mangonui southwards and in South Island as far south as central southland.