Reputed to be the largest fuchsia in the world it grows up to 15m.
The Genus name Fuchsia is from the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs, (1501- 1566). The species name excorticata means ‘loose barked’ while tukutuku means ‘letting go’, so both names refer to the peeling bark.
It is an ‘oddball’ NZ native tree because it:
- is deciduous, when growing in temperate to cold locations
- has orange-brown bark that peels off
- has dense and durable wood with high water storing capacity (‘bucket-of-water’ tree)
- bears purple flowers with blue pollen that form on woody branches (termed ‘cauliflory’)
- is ‘gynodioecious’ meaning it has separate hermaphrodite (male and female) parts in flowers and those with female parts. One tree will have female flowers while another, bisexual flowers.
Also, did you know?
- nectar from flowers is sought by tūī, kererū, korimako (bellbirds) and tauhou (silvereyes). Tūī have their black heads covered in blue pollen when they have visited flowers
- dark purple sweet fruit, (kōnini) were eaten by Māori, and Europeans used the fruit for jam
- leaves are soft with a green upper side and a white lower side
- the bark contains tannins and was used as a natural agent in tanning leather as well as for dyes
- the introduction of possums to NZ resulted in a steep decline of this species as trees were killed by defoliation. With possum control in recent years, the kōtukutuku in Tawa Bush Reserves are growing better.
Article Source: Gil Roper December 2021 Newsletter