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Kōtukutuku

Kōtukutuku, or tree fuschia, has colourful pink and purple flowers with a bright blue pollen that marks all nectar-seeking birds that visit.

Kōtukutuku
Fuchsia excorticata
Can grow as high as
12m
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More about this tree

  • Growing up to 15 metres tall, this New Zealand native is the largest fuchsia in the world. It is found throughout New Zealand, 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 dishevelled winter appearance (not helped by its gnarled, not often upright, growth habit) is transformed when the flowers appear in spring. 
  • Initially green-yellow, the flowers change to purple-red and are a rich source of nectar for birds such as tūī, tītapu and pihipihi. 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 a tamarillo or grape. They were a favourite food for Māori and 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 like kūmara.
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