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

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

Pīngao – Ficinia spiralis

In former times, Pīngao would have crowded the shore of every sandy beach from Northland to Stewart Island. The curly golden leaves were highly admired as a weaving material, and were used to make hats, bags, mats, headbands, belts and raincapes. South Island Māori were even known to make body armour with the leaves that was worn into battle. Pīngao was such an important part of the … Continue reading Pīngao – Ficinia spiralis

Māpou – Myrsine australis

Māpou is a tough little tree. It manages to thrive just about anywhere, colonising bare ground as well as the understory of dense forests. It’s also able to cope with browsing from the hoardes of introduced mammals that plague New Zealand forests, as it has unpalatable leaves that sheep and cattle tend to avoid. Even Brushtail Possums don’t seem to like the taste, and will seek out other plants … Continue reading Māpou – Myrsine australis

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