rewarewa, New Zealand honeysuckle
Tall evergreen New Zealand native tree with a narrow, columnar habit, flowering in spring. Occurs naturally throughout the North Island and in the northern parts of the South Island of New Zealand. Leaves are leathery, dark olive-green, pale beneath, with toothed margins, 3-4 cm wide, up to 30 cm long on juvenile plants and about 15 cm long on adult trees. Brown tomentum covers the branchlets, petioles and mid-veins on the undersides of the leaves. Bee-pollinated, reddish brown flowers, clustered tightly in racemes to 10 cm long. Flowers are rich in nectar and attract birds such as the New Zealand native tui. The protruding styles persist on the brown woody fruit capsules that follow the flowers and after about a year split in two halves to release winged seed.
Knightia excelsa prefers a sunny or partially shady position in any well-drained soil. Suitable for coastal gardens as long as it is sheltered from very strong winds to protect the leaves from leaf burn.Tolerant of dry conditions once established, but prone to root rot in wet soils. Moderately frost-hardy. Needs some frost protection when young. Thrips may become a problem in particular for plants that are already stressed, causing the leaves to turn pale, but this can be overcome by applying a systemic insecticide. No or little pruning required.
Even though Knightia excelsa eventually becomes very tall, its narrow growth habit makes it an attractive specimen tree that is suitable even for smaller gardens. Looks great when planted in groups where space allows. Excellent choice if you wish to attract birds and bees in your garden.
Type of plantTree - Evergreen
Size8-15 m tall (eventually to about 30 m in the wild), 3-4 m wide
Landscape Usebird and bee-attracting specimen tree
- Temperature: Half hardy
- Light: Medium High
- Moisture: Low Medium
- Soil: Light Medium Heavy
- Wind tolerance: Average
- Coastal tolerance: High