An iconic symbol of New Zealand at Christmas is Metrosideros excelsa, better known in Maori as pohutukawa, or the New Zealand Christmas tree. This member of the myrtle family is endemic to the island nation and is known for its impressive display of red flowers during the yuletide season. The pohutukawa is a tough tree, thriving in harsh conditions, particularly seaside cliffs along its native lands of the north shore of the North Island. It also has been shown to be capable of colonizing lava plains, doing so on Rangitoto, a volcanic island. Depending on conditions, the pohutukawa can grow as a shrub or into a massive tree. It also can survive and thrive for centuries. On the eastern coast of the North Island at Te Araroa there grows the largest known pohutukawa in the world, standing more than 60 feet tall and more than 120 feet wide. Estimates place its age at anywhere from 350 to 600 years old. Despite its hardiness, the tree is threatened by non-native possums that strip the leaves off the trees. Project Crimson has been working for years to promote the protection of the pohutukawa and save this symbol of New Zealand.
This pohutukawa was photographed by Roger Sampson at Auckland Domain in New Zealand. Roger is a New Zealand photographer who describes his work as a hobby. “Nature is the star,” he says, “and I just expose nature.” You can find him on Facebook and YouTube.
We’ve written about the pohutukawa before. Click here for more on this plant.