Yellow Pohutukawa

Earlier today we were in Dunedin and visited St Clair. As soon as we’d parked I spotted a yellow pohutukawa on a nearby private property. This is a rare colour form, the normal colour being bright red (known as the New Zealand Christmas tree). Down south here the pohutukawa trees are just coming into flower so I was surprised how many open blooms were already present on this tree.

Note: the rare yellow form originated from Motiti Island, Bay of Plenty, North Island, NZ and is taonga i.e. greatly prized by the local Maori hapu because the yellow form is found nowhere else naturally in Aotearoa.


Metrosideros excelsa ‘Aurea’

Greenish-yellow flowers. Also note the large-leaved plant in the background – also a native plant and we’ll come back to that.

Click on photo to enlarge. Photo taken by Liz.

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Flower and bud detail. Click on photo to enlarge. Photo taken by Liz.

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Context. Click on photo to enlarge. Photo taken by Nigel.

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Click on photo to enlarge. Photo taken by Liz.

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Context. Click on photo to enlarge. Photo taken by Nigel.

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Flower and bud detail. Click on photo to enlarge. Photo taken by Nigel.

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Blurry shot taken by Nigel, I liked it as an arty photo. Click on photo to enlarge.

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Back to the plant with the large leaves. This is puka or Meryta sinclairii and is endemic to New Zealand. It’s particularly eye-catching in Dunedin where its large lush leaves add an apparent touch of the tropics in our cool southern climate. It occurs naturally on the Hen and Chicken Islands and on the Three Kings in the north of New Zealand. More photos at Terrain.

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Text by Liz, photos by Nigel and Liz; Exploring Colour (2019)

13 thoughts on “Yellow Pohutukawa

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  1. I learned about the red pohutukawa about a year ago, or maybe two. I had no idea a yellow version could be found — it’s lovely. I especially like the photo of the flowers against that gray and somewhat stormy sky. I’ve always thought gray, yellow, and white made for a great combination, anyway: especially this yellow, which is almost lemony.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve known that our yaupon has orange as well as red berries, but I recently discovered a yellow-berried version, too. I’ll be posting an image of that soon. Our so-called firewheel, or gaillardia, usually is some combination of red and yellow, but I’ve seen pure yellow ones. I’m not sure whether they’re natural variations of a different species. Something else to look up!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this. We didn’t really get to grips with the trees when we were in NZ (we’re birders at heart), and I guess in any case Pohutukawa wouldn’t have been in flower? It’s an attractive plant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No they wouldn’t have been in flower. They make a big show with their bright red flowers. Some beaches up in the north island are lined with big pohutukawas all the way along the top of the beach. They offer a lot of shade, form interesting shapes, and get covered with flowers in the height of summer. Then the flowers drop all over the sand making it go red for a little while!

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  3. The flowers look quite strokable…can you just imagine what I’d be like – reaching out to stroke them as I pass along the street, hehe! (And I like the big puka leaves – nice contrast with the smaller leaves.)

    Liked by 1 person

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