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Pohutukawa - New Zealand Christmas Tree

The Pohutukawa is Metrosideros excelsa and is one of many in a genus represented throughout New Zealand ranging from forest giants and vigorous climbers to small shrubs. Metrosideros is from the Greek and means ironwood alluding to the hardness of the timber and excelsa is Latin and means tall or high. The name Pohutukawa is a Maori word meaning ‘drenched with mist’.

In its native habitat the Pohutukawa is a large tree sometimes attaining 25m. In the suburb of Parnell in Auckland, New Zealand, there is a venerable old tree planted in 1800 which has a diameter of about 4m and would dwarf an oak tree. When they reach this age and size the tree often produces masses of reddish fibrous rootlets that hang in curtains. This reveals the fact that many in this genus are epiphytic and are similar to our Strangler Figs of northern rainforests, sometimes starting life as a seedling high up in another tree’s canopy and sending down aerial roots which after many years strangle the host tree.

Although a large tree normally, Metrosideros excelsa also responds well to Leaf and root pruning and can be used for Bonsai. As they grow quite quickly they require regular pruning to maintain their shape and because of this they tend to be hard to get to flower as bonsai. If you can forego pruning for a year or two and risk loosing shape and instead get flowers a great christmas floral display. They will bud from old wood so shape can usually be regained. The leaves are difficult to reduce in size so Pohutukawa tend to look better as a larger bonsai where they are better proportioned. In nature plants tend to cling to cliffs with no sign of any soil or nourishment but in fact as a bonsai they require quite heavy feeding through spring and summer to maintain vigour and leaf colour. They should also be kept moist at all times especially when grown over a rock.

for more information have a look at the following link
Pohutukawa as Bonsai

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Pohutukawa as Bonsai

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