Pōhutukawa Tree Aotearoa's Christmas Tree

Pōhutukawa trees are well known for their crimson red flowers. However...

Sometimes they can be yellow...

and even less commonly they can be white, pink or orange.

Here are a few interesting facts...

Pōhutukawa Trees can live up to 1000 years! This is why they always look so gnarly- they are really old!

They naturally grow north of New Plymouth and Gisborne but they can be found all over Aotearoa.

As young trees, in good conditions, they can grow up to 30cm a year whereas an older tree may grow up to 10cm a year.

Pōhutukawa have the ability to sprout root systems as and where needed. These roots form out of trunks and branches; and are able to grow in air over surfaces as they search for crevices, pockets of soil and moisture.

Early Maori used the flowering of Pōhutukawa as a seasonal sign that kina were fat and ready to eat!

Maori have traditionally had a range of medicinal uses for the Pōhutukawa. Uses include dysentery cures, stopping bleeding and remedies for coughs and colds.

Because of the crimson red flowers and that the Pōhutukawa flowers from November to January, it has been aptly named Aotearoa's Christmas Tree

Although the Pōhutukawa are doing well now, it wasn't always this way...

Possums were decimating the Pōhutakawa as they eat their leaves to a point which would kill the whole tree.

Human's often damage roots systems by tramping and driving over them, placing heavy objects on them and even chopping them down.

Now Myrtle Rust is a new threat which can kill Pōhutukawa's. This is a fungal disease which drifted here from overseas.

If you think you’ve seen myrtle rust, don’t touch it, take a photo, and call 0800 80 99 66.

Pōhutukawa's are considered a weed in South Africa. While we in New Zealand go to great lengths to protect the tree, it has been listed as a serious alien invader in South Africa. This shows the importance of planting trees in their natural environments and not introducing them to other countries.

Project Crimson

In 1990 it was found that 90% of the coastal Pōhutukawa stands were gone.

Project Crimson formed to help protect the Pōhutukawa and since then have planted and protected hundreds of thousands of Pōhutukawa's and restored the Pōhutukawa back to the coastline.

Locally there are heaps of groups that are working towards protecting native trees, including Pōhutukawa's.

Kutukutuku Valley in Te Puke

Forest & Bird

Te Puke


Easter Bay of Plenty

HELP Waihi

Waiewe Stream Restoration Group

Te Puna Quarry Park

Learn the Pōhutukawa Christmas Tree song in both English and Te Reo!


Created with images by David T - "Pohutukawa trees growing together on Waipu coastal walk." • David T - "Otamure, Northland, New Zealand" • lylsharain - "pohutukawa tree isolated mount maunganui" • Hans - "blossom bloom red" • Hans - "blossom bloom red" • hirisflower - "possum animal mammal" • Simeykins - "pohutukawa tree boat coast" • Tobin Rogers - "Giraffe in Kruger" • Phillip Larking - "Rātā tree, Aotearoa New Zealand" • Hans - "blossom bloom red" • Hans - "leaves ironwood tree christmas" • Hans - "blossom bloom red" • Stijn te Strake - "Otama Beach (Coromandel, New Zealand)" • Hans - "leaves ironwood tree christmas"