Thursday, October 1, 2009

Metrosideros excelsa, "Pohutakawa"

Metrosideros excelsa syn tomentosus 
 Pohutakawa or New Zealand Christmas Tree
This shrub or small tree of the Pacific Islands starts to flower around now and continues well into Summer. There is also a cream flowering variety called 'Moon Maiden' as well as variegated leaf forms, and many dwarf cultivars. All are hardy in the salt spray conditions of the coast and have often been used as street trees or hedges in coastal towns and suburbs. They have some degree of frost tolerance as well. As they mature Metrosideros often develop unsightly aerial roots which hang from the branches like orangutan fur. They also are susceptible to unexpected die back of limbs on mature trees. Closer inspection usually reveals they have been subject to an attack by borers which have left sizable holes at the base of the trunk and made tunnels just below the bark surface. Kept small and treated as a 2 metre hedge ,Metrosideros make a useful addition to a seaside garden for their bright flowers and felty grey leaves which contrasts well with Phormiums and succulents.
2017 update: I no longer recommend them as they tend to be short lived.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ian, just back from a NZ trip and fell in love with the metrosideros excelsa. Do you think these would go ok in Brisbane's heat and humidity?