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Rosemary Cole
/ Categories: In the Valley

Did you know?

Learn about kōtukutuku / tree fuchsia

Did you know ZEALANDIA has a hermaphrodite tree? It is the kōtukutuku or tree fuchsia (Fuchsia excorticata). Kōtukutuku trees can be either female or hermaphrodite (which means they have both male and female flower parts). Hermaphrodite kōtukutuku trees can fertilise themselves.

When the greeny-purple kōtukutuku flowers are fertilised they change into a dullish red hue. This could be to let birds know a flower has already been fertilised and no more nectar is available - perhaps it is to warn birds off, so fertilised flowers do not get damaged.

Hermaphrodite kōtukutuku flowers have blue pollen and it can be easy to spot when birds such as hihi (stitchbird) have been feeding on them because of the dusting of bright blue on their heads!

There are several kōtukutuku currently in bloom on the accessible Te Mahanga Track.  This well-formed and maintained track is suitable for wheelchairs, prams and buggies.

Near those kōtukutuku trees, there’s a very informative storyboard with colour photos.

Māori called the kōtukutuku berries kōnini and used them as fruit, and also post-childbirth as infusions in vapour baths. The fruit was also eaten by early European settlers as desserts and jam.

The kōtukutuku has distinctive browny-orange peeling bark and this bark has tannin, which can be used to tan leather.

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