Miro was known and cherished by the Maoris because of its fleshy covered fruit, about an inch long, on which the native pigeon feeds and fattens. It is a softwood forest tree growing up to 90 ft high and 1 to 3 ft through the bole. The leaves are one-half to three-quarters of an inch long, are linear, and arranged in two rows. The flowers are on separate trees, male in small catkins and the females very small, on the top of short, curved peduncles.
Miro is found in lowland forests throughout North, South, and Stewart Islands. It is a scattered forest tree, the crowns of which join others, like rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) in forming broken, emergent foliage masses above the general canopy of the broadleaf trees. It is seldom a dominant forest tree, but a small forest – now milled – in the Opawa-Rangitoto area, east Taupo, was composed largely of miro. Scattered regeneration is a frequent occurrence even where adult trees are scarce or apparently absent. This suggests widespread distribution of the seed by birds.
Miro timber closely resembles that of rimu, and it is usually marketed as such. Heartwood is somewhat darker in colour, finer in grain, easily worked, and of exceptional strength.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.