Book of Mediterranean Trees, Shrubs and Climbers


Metrosideros excelsa  Pohutukawa
Family Myrtaceae
Genus Metrosideros    
Species excelsa   
Properties Azores
Metrosideros excelsa, with common names pōhutukawa, New Zealand pohutukawa, New Zealand Christmas tree, New Zealand Christmas bush, and iron tree, is a coastal evergreen tree in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, that produces a brilliant display of red (or occasionally orange, yellow or white) flowers made up of a mass of stamens. The pōhutukawa is one of twelve Metrosideros species endemic to New Zealand. Renowned for its vibrant colour and its ability to survive even perched on rocky, precarious cliffs, it has found an important place in New Zealand culture for its strength and beauty and is regarded as a chiefly tree (rākau rangatira) by Māori. The blossom of the tree is called kahika. The pōhutukawa has been introduced to other countries with mild-to-warm climates, including south-eastern Australia, where it is naturalising on coastal cliffs near Sydney. In coastal California, it is a popular street and lawn tree, but has caused concern in San Francisco where its root systems are blamed for destroying sewer lines and sidewalks. In parts of South Africa, the pōhutukawa grows so well that it is regarded as an invasive species. Pohuukawa are widespread in the Azores and in places in Galicia. The Spanish city of A Coruña has adopted the pōhutukawa as a floral emblem.
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aerial roots