New Zealand native evergreen shrub or small tree. Thick, leathery, obovate leaves with rolled down margins, about 6 cm long and 2 cm wide. The leaf undersides and petioles are covered with a dense whitish tomentum. Deep red, fragrant, unisexual flowers in spring, the female ones turning into three- or four-valved seed capsules which eventually split open to reveal shiny black seeds. Provides food for native and exotic birds. Originally occurred naturally near the coast, along streams and in forest margins in the North Island of New Zealand from the North Cape to Poverty Bay, and in the Kermadic Islands. Karo is now naturalised throughout most of New Zealand.
Prefers a sunny or semi-shady position in free-draining soil. Tolerates wind, coastal conditions, relatively dry sites, and moderate frosts (zones 9-11). Usually quite fast growing and problem-free. Prune yearly. Benefits from mulch and compost.
Tough plant with a grey-green overall appearance. Suitable for hedging purposes. The flowers release a delightful scent at night. Excellent choice for seaside gardens as a filler or background plant.
Size3-6 m tall, to about 3 m wide.
Landscape Usehedge, filler, background, coastal gardens, exposed sites, dry areas
- Temperature: Half hardy
- Light: Medium High
- Moisture: Low Medium
- Soil: Light Medium
- Wind tolerance: High
- Coastal tolerance: High