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Kohekohe Sunday
By Sue Blaikie

Kohekohe Sunday at Whareroa Farm, June 2nd, 2013.

Coming up very soon is an opportunity to see a unique sight on the Kapiti Coast. Kohekohe trees in flower!
Kohekohe trees were once common in the coastal and lowland forests of New Zealand from North Cape to Nelson - Marlborough. They were cut down to make space for houses and farming. Further destruction by possums and other pests has reduced forest areas. Kapiti has a nationally important reserve of kohekohe at Hemi Matenga and several forest remnants on Whareroa Farm. These areas are beginning to recover from stock damage. Many seedlings have germinated. Flowering has begun and it is just one of several reasons which make the kohekohe such a fascinating tree.

  • Unusually, kohekohe flowers sprout in cascades directly from the trunk and branches. This striking feature is known as cauliflory (stem flowers) and may be an adaptation to pollination and seed dispersal by birds & flying insects.
  • Each small flower in a pannicle is a greenish white colour and waxy in appearance with a subtle spicy perfume.
  • Male and female flowers grow on separate trees OR on the same tree.
  • Fruits like large bunches of grapes take up to 15 months to ripen, when they split to reveal scarlet capsules containing the seeds.
  • Kohekohe trees do not flower every year; there are very few flowers while the fruit matures.
  • Blooming generally occurs during early winter.
  • This statuesque tree grows to 15m tall with a smooth grey trunk up to 1m in diameter. It may be buttressed at the base.
  • Leaves are large oval and glossy green, prominently veined and paler underneath. Each leaf has 3-4 pairs of leaflets with a terminal leaflet.
  • Maori used kohekohe for waka when necessary, (it does rot more easily than some other species) and the wood was valued for carving.
  • Te Papa museum has the botanical sample of kohekohe collected in 1768 during the first trip of Captain Cook to New Zealand. Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander's specimen is over 240 years old!
  • Kohekohe or Dysoxylum spectabile is the sole NZ example of the 'mahogany' tree family and has many of their tropical features.
    Whareroa Guardians Community Trust members will take guided walks to see the flowering kohekohe trees (& other sights of interest) starting at 10am, Sunday 2nd June, 2013. Join us!
    For regular updates on Whareroa activities send an email to whareroa.guardians@gmail.com
    Or go to facebook www.facebook.com/pages/Whareroa-Guardian-Community-Trust/495391803847628
    Or Nature Space www.naturespace.org.nz/groups/whareroa-guardians-community-trust-inc

     
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  • Other stories in this section:
    KC News: the Internet Newspaper for the Kapiti Coast