Growing up to 15 metres tall, this New Zealand native is the largest fuchsia in the world. It is found throughout NewZealand, and particularly likes to grow alongside streams and rivers.
One of the few deciduous native trees, the tree fuchsia not only drops leaves, but also sheds its bark. This dishevelledwinter appearance (not helped by its gnarled, not often upright, growth habit) is transformed when the flowers appearin spring.
Initially green-yellow, the flowers change to purple-red and are a rich source of nectar for birds such astūī,tītapuandpihipihi. While feasting, the birds get covered by distinctive blue coloured pollen.
The blue pollen was favoured by young Māori women who used it as a lip colour.
The dark purple berries are also sought-after and taste like atamarilloor grape. They were a favourite food for Māoriand early European settlers, and are well suited to jam making.
Birds,particularly the kererū, also love the berries, and this is a great method of seed dispersal.
For early Māori, when the flowers appeared in September, it was a sign that it was time to plant spring crops likekūmara.