Submitted by admin on April 22, 2009 - 22:16
This is a well-known, though not now common, New Zealand tree, that grows in lowland semi-swamp and gully forest from the north to part way down the South Island. An unusual feature is seen in the plank-buttresses, or wide-spreading, flanged lower bole. This is a common feature in tropical and semi-tropical trees, but pukatea is the only New Zealand tree showing it. The family to which it belongs is a small one and is principally tropical and semi-tropical. Laurelia has only two species, one in New Zealand and one in Chile. They are both aromatic trees with opposite leaves. Pukatea grows to heights of over 120 ft, and above the buttresses the bole has diameters of up to 4–5 ft. Branchlets are square. Leaves are 2–3 in. long, elliptic and coarsely toothed, dark green and glossy above. Flowers are inconspicuous and are in small racemes; male and female are on separate plants. The wood, although infrequently marketed now, is of value for boat building. It is rather soft, but very strong and tough and difficult to split. It is pale brown and figured, and is a good ornamental furniture timber.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.