Kānuka – Kunzea spp.

Kānuka has a tough time bursting through to the public spotlight. It’s often overshadowed by its cousin mānuka – stealing the limelight with headlines about its remarkable medicinal honey. But kānuka is an incredibly impressive plant in its own right that stands apart from its fellow tea-tree. While mānuka can be found in both New Zealand and Australia, our kānuka species are endemic to NZ and found … Continue reading Kānuka – Kunzea spp.

Mānuka – Leptospermum scoparium

Culture & History Despite being perhaps one of the more important native plants in New Zealand, for most of the 20th century mānuka was viewed as a noxious weed. Farmers especially loathed the plant, viewing it as a costly nuisance that prevented them from developing areas of hill country. When a black sooty mould fungus caused widespread devastation of mānuka it was seen as a cause for celebration and … Continue reading Mānuka – Leptospermum scoparium

Tōtara – Podocarpus totara

Tōtara is a forest giant, with a massive woody trunk that holds aloft thousands of sharp needle-like leaves. The name ‘tōtara’ is probably a reference to these spiky leaves, as the word tara in Māori means spike or thorn and is used for other spiky animals and plants.  Tōtara is covered in thick, stringy bark and can live for over 1000 years. It earned the … Continue reading Tōtara – Podocarpus totara

Pōhutukawa – Metrosideros excelsa

History & Culture Today, New Zealand’s plant life is widely admired and readily adopted as symbols of our identity and culture. But for many of the early European settlers first setting foot on New Zealand, the forest was viewed in a hostile, fearful manner.  Exchanging manicured fields and rolling pastures for a land covered in dense, rugged, unfamiliar forest; it is not surprising that many … Continue reading Pōhutukawa – Metrosideros excelsa

A Guide to New Zealand Plant Beers, Wines & Spirits

The history of brewing alcohol in New Zealand is relatively short. Māori were one of the few indigenous groups in the world that had no history of alcohol use – a title they share with they inuit of Canada and several Native american tribes. They got by fine by drinking plain water, occasionally garnished with fern fronds, or sweetened with flax nectar or sugar from … Continue reading A Guide to New Zealand Plant Beers, Wines & Spirits

Taraire – Beilschmiedia tarairi

The easiest way to identify taraire is to listen for the crunch of its leathery leaves under your feet.  The large, green leaves are very slow to rot, and over time will build up in a thick, crunchy blanket on the forest floor. This leaf-layer smothers out many other seedlings and plants, leaving the forest open and easy to navigate on foot. The other remarkable feature … Continue reading Taraire – Beilschmiedia tarairi