Tawa – Beilschimedia tawa

History & Culture The long willow-like branches of Tawa have stolen the lives of many Kererū in their time. Māori hunters would climb great trees, carrying with them immense Tawa lances – sometimes greater than 10 metres long. Slowly, carefully, they would inch the lances closer and closer to their prey until at the final moment they would the thrust them through the heart of … Continue reading Tawa – Beilschimedia tawa

Lord of the Trees: The Botany of Middle Earth

For many people around the world, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy put New Zealand on the map. The sweeping panorama shots of snow-topped mountains, remote tussock grasslands and wild untamed forests worked like an extended tourism video, and visitors flocked to the country in record numbers. However with such a huge emphasis on the spectacular scenery there is an important character in the … Continue reading Lord of the Trees: The Botany of Middle Earth

Tutu – Coriaria arborea

Culture & History Tutu is one of New Zealand’s deadliest plants. Although the fruit is edible, every other part of the plant contains the powerful neurotoxin tutin which attacks the muscular and nervous systems. The plant claimed the lives of many early Māori – especially children- when seeds were accidentally  swallowed along with the fruit.  European settlers also fell victim to the plant, with cases … Continue reading Tutu – Coriaria arborea

A Land Without Teeth

  The Death of the Dinosaurs When New Zealand first began to rift away from Gondwana, dinosaurs still walked amongst the shade of giant conifers, the ocean was ruled by vicious marine reptiles and the skies were dominated by flying pterosaurs. But around 65 million years ago a meteorite roughly 10 kilometres wide crashed into the Yucatan peninsula. The shockwave, the ensuing tsunamis and firestorms, … Continue reading A Land Without Teeth

The Story of New Zealand

  Gondwanan Heritage Gondwana was a large southern hemisphere super-continent that could essentially be thought of as the birthplace of New Zealand. It was composed of the modern day landmasses of Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, India, Madagascar and New Zealand and existed as an entity for hundreds of millions of years before being rifted apart by volcanic activity under the earth’s crust. Many species of extinct and extant plants … Continue reading The Story of New Zealand

Nīkau – Rhopalostylis sapida

History & Culture In the early Miocene (around 23 million years ago) New Zealand had a much warmer climate and contained distinctive tropical elements in its flora. Palms were common at this time, and even included species of Coconut – such as the small fruited Cocos zeylanica. As a result of glaciation and cooling, these species have been removed from the landscape, with only one … Continue reading Nīkau – Rhopalostylis sapida