Northernrātāis found throughout the North Island and as far south as Hokitika, and is abundant in coastal and lower montane forests.
It is one of New Zealand’s most famous epiphytes; a plant that often begins its life atop another host plant, and later sends roots to the ground downthe trunk of the host tree in search of pockets of soil and moisture. When they eventually root into the ground therātābecomes independent of thehost.
These trees live for thousands of years. The roots fuse together over time and form a trunk inside which the original host tree decays.
Rātāthat begin their life in the ground tend to be shorter than those who start as epiphytes.
Its bark was used by early Māori to treat a number of skin conditions.
Rātāflowers are a source of nectar for honey bees, pollen for native bees, and a meal for bats and lizards too.
Kākā,tūīandtītapualso feed on the nectar, and many birds nest in the hollow trunks.
Rātā is from the same family aspōhutukawa, but its leaves are smaller with a small notch in the top. The flowers are also smaller, but a deeper redcolour.