A tree common within the New Zealand garden is the Pōhutukawa tree which is native to New Zealand. This tree blooms between November and January with a peak around mid to late December giving it the nickname ‘New Zealand’s Christmas tree’.
The New Zealand Garden is a section within the Gardens of the World dedicated to our beautiful country. The New Zealand Garden has some of the most amazing views of the lake, either from the lakes edge or from a view point above. The New Zealand Garden also sits behind one of the amphitheatres, which makes a great backdrop for garden weddings, birthday parties, picnics, outdoor concerts and corporate functions.
Many of the trees that have been planted in the New Zealand Garden are a great food source for the native bird life and insects which adds to the beauty and sounds of the New Zealand Garden.
Ti Kōuka – Cabbage Tree – Cordyline Austalis
The Ti Kōuka tree grows up to 20 meters tall and has a stout trunk with sword like leaves which are clustered at the tips. Branches can grow up to a metre in length. This is a hardy, fast growing tree and its fruit is favoured by the kererū and other native birds. The ti kōuka or Cordyline Austalis was probably introduced by the Māori into the Chatham Islands and Stewart Island.
The largest known tree with a single trunk is in Pakawau, Golden Bay with an estimate age of 400-500 years old. Māori used the ti kōuka as a food source especially in the South Island and particularly in areas other food sources couldn’t grow.
It also provided durable fibre for:
Waterproof rain coats, cloaks and sandals
In the Northern Hemisphere, with milder climates, it is an ornamental tree called a torquay palm.
Horoeka – Lancewood Tree- Pseudopanax Crassifolius
The horoeka (Lancewood) is native to New Zealand and is found throughout the country. Juvenile form lasts 15-20 years and is recognised by stiff leathery leaves with a prominent central rip: about 1cm wide and up to 1m long with irregular teeth all growing downwards. As the tree ages the stem begins to branch producing a bush top with leaves becoming wider, shorter and they lose their teeth. Only as the tree matures does it develop a tree shape.
Puriri – Vitex Lucens
This is an evergreen tree endemic to New Zealand. Puriri was first collected at Tolaga Bay by Banks and Solander during Captain Cook’s first visit to New Zealand in 1769. Puriri is the Māori name for this tree but it’s also sometimes known as Kauere.
In English it is sometimes called the New Zealand mahogany or the New Zealand teak – especially in reference to the timber. The puriri tree can grow up to 20m tall with the trunk commonly up to 1.5m in diameter, frequently thicker and a broad spreading crown. The thin bark is usually smooth and light brown in colour and can also be very flaky.
Puriri is one of the few native trees with large colourful flowers (many plants in New Zealand have white or green flowers). They look rather like snap dragon and can range from fluorescent pink to dark red, rose pink (most common) or sometimes even to a white flower with a yellow or pink blush.
Some flowers can be found on the puriri all year round, though the puriri tree flowers most heavily over winter. Ripe fruit can be found all year round but more heavily over summer. For this reason it is an important food source for native birds especially in the top of the North Island as it provides a year round food supply.
The Māori used infusions from boiled leaves to bathe sprains and backaches, as a remedy for ulcers, especially under the ear, and for sore throats. The infusion was also used to wash the body of the deceased to help preserve the body. They are grown in groves and are often tapu (sacred) as they are used as in burial sites. The puriri leaves were also fashioned into coronets or carried in the hand during a tangihanga (funeral).
Rimu – Dacrydium Cupressinum
The rimu is a large evergreen coniferous tree endemic to the forests of New Zealand. It is a member of the southern conifer group, the podocarps. The rimu tree was also known as ‘Red Pine’. It grows throughout New Zealand with the largest concentration being found on the West Coast of the South Island.
The rimu tree is a slow-growing tree that can grow up to 50 metres tall. It’s lifespan is approximately 800 to 900 years. It has a straight trunk which generally grows 1.5 metres in diameter.
The leaves are spirally arranged awl shape up to 7 millimetres long. Seeds are dispersed by native birds which eat the fleshy scale and pass the seed through their stools. The rimu tree is an important food source particularly for kākāpō whose breeding cycle has been linked to the cone production cycle of the tree.
Rimu trees as well as kauri (agathis australis) and tōtara trees were a main source of wood in New Zealand. However, most of New Zealand original stands of rimu have been destroyed and recent changes to government policies means there is no more felling in public forests, though they do allow limited felling on private land.
The rimu tree has now been replaced by the pinus radiata as the main source of wood. Rimu is still popular for high quality wooden furniture. There has also been limited recovery of stump and root wood from trees felled many years before. These stumps and roots are used for making bowls and other wood turned objects.
Tōtara – Podocarpus Tōtara
The tōtara tree is a species of podocarp tree endemic to New Zealand. It grows throughout the North Island and North-eastern South Island in lowland, montane and lower sub-alpine forest at elevations of up to 600 meters.
The tōtara tree is a medium to large tree which grows slowly to around 20 to 25 meters. It is noted for its longevity and the great girth of its trunk. The bark peels off in papery flakes and has a purplish to golden brown hue. The largest known living tōtara tree is near Pureora (Lake Taupō – central North Island) and is over 35 meters tall with a trunk nearly 4 meters in diameter at chest height.
The wood of the tōtara is hard and straight grained and is very resistant to rot due to it durability. Tōtara wood was often used for fence posts, floor pilings and railway sleepers. Tōtara wood is also prized for its carving properties and was the primary wood used in Māori carvings.
Tōtara trees have been planted in the United Kingdom as far north as Inverewe in Scotland.