The Māori name for Celery pine is Tānekaha “Strong Man” and its an incredibly apt description. Celery pine possesses one of the strongest native timbers, and it was used extensively by both Māori and Europeans for any task that required strength and durability.
Europeans used Celery pine in houses, decks, bridges, railways, and as props to hold open gold and coal mines. Māori found a myriad of uses for the plant, crafting it into waka, masts, paddles, bowls, clubs, spears and walking sticks. The tough durable wood made an excellent fishing material. Young twigs were carved into fish hooks and longer branches were used as fishing rods and nets for catching Marblefish.
Not only was Celery pine a useful timber tree, its bark was a rich source of red dye, which was used by Māori in the all-important process of flax weaving. Unsurprisingly, Tānekaha trees were highly valued, particular in areas were they were scarce. In Ruatuhuna, the few large specimens of Celery pine were so highly prized that they had their own names, and only those with direct ancestry to the area were allowed to take bark from them.
The English name – Celery Pine – refers to the strange, leathery leaves which resemble those of celery. In actual fact, these are not leaves at all; they are twigs – Phyllodes – that have been flattened out and packed full of photosynthetic material.
Want to learn more about Celery Pine?
Ngā Tipu Whakaoranga; Māori Plant Use Database
New Zealand Plant Conservation Network
Photo Credits: Header Image was taken by Robert Vennell, Miners Photo was taken By Joseph Minis and Sourced from Bob Mckerrow – Wayfarer
3 thoughts on “Celery Pine – Phyllocladus trichomanioides”
Thank you so much for this article. I did recognise this wonderful tree on our Family Land it’s very much treasured by us being part of a good stand of other native trees.
We are in the process of planting other trees which will attract more of the bird life which already it outstanding. Kaka Tui Woodpigeon
Wax eyes to name a few.
I wound love to know more about the use of the trees and into healing power and stories of the past. Totally fascinating to us all including my grandchildren. Thank you Walter Scheer
Laralodge Care Home
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Kia ora, appreciate your comment and glad you enjoyed the post!
Great to hear you are planting natives to attract the birds – all the best!