(Knightia excelsa). The family Proteaceae, to which the proteas belong, is widely represented in Australia and South Africa where there are some 50 genera each with but a single species. One of them is the rewarewa, a broadleaf forest tree which grows to heights of up to 90 ft, with trunks up to 3 ft in diameter. It is an attractive tree distinguished from a distance by its ascending branches. It occurs in lowland and montane forests from near the North Cape to about the Marlborough Sounds. It is most common in the shrubland and young forest developing on parts of the recent pumice eruptions of the central North Island. There it is almost a pioneer forest species.
The leaves of juvenile plants are linear-lanceolate, toothed, up to 12 in. long. Those on older saplings and trees are 6–7 in. long, narrow-oblong and coarsely toothed. The flowers are in stout racemes about 4–5 in. long and are covered with dense red-brown hairs. The racemes arise from between the leaves or from the naked part of the branchlets. The fruit is woody and pod-like. The wood is dense and strong but not at all durable. It is ornately marked by large medullary rays which show when the wood is cut along the radius. It is a showy ornamental wood but at present is out of fashion and little used.
Rewarewa regenerates strongly under suitable conditions and offers promise of management. The timber, however, would need to be in keener demand before much attention was paid to management.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.