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

Mahoe – Melicytus ramiflorus

One of the easiest ways to tell whether you are looking at mahoe is to look at the leaf litter on the forest floor. The decaying leaves form characteristic skeleton leaves, as the leaf matter dies away and leaves only the architecture of the veins. Often piles of these dead skeleton leaves build up around the base of the tree. Another interesting feature of the … Continue reading Mahoe – Melicytus ramiflorus

Pukatea – Laurelia novae-zelandiae

Pukatea rises from wet and swampy ground to tower amongst the giants of the forest. To achieve this amazing feat, it builds itself walled buttress roots that help prop it up in soggy soil and keep it from falling over. In very wet conditions, it will even grow pneumatophores – small snorkel-like structures on its roots that help them breathe underwater. The bark of Pukatea contains a powerful … Continue reading Pukatea – Laurelia novae-zelandiae

Mangemange – Lygodium articulatum

At first glance the thin wiry stems of Mangemange look easy to break, but they are actually incredibly strong. Many trampers find themselves strung up by the plant, struggling in vain to break free. Māori believed these tough wiry stems were so durable they could last a hundred years, and found a number of ingenious uses for them. Mangemange stems were made into rope, thatching, fish … Continue reading Mangemange – Lygodium articulatum

Ngaio – Myoporum laetum

Hold the leaves of Ngaio up to the light and you will see it is studded with oil glands. These glands are packed full of the toxin Ngaione, which kills its victims by shutting down the liver. Many horses, cattle, sheep and pigs have suffered this unfortunate fate after grazing on Ngaio leaves. However, the toxic oil is not without its uses and Māori discovered that by … Continue reading Ngaio – Myoporum laetum