Tawapou grows in coastal areas as far south on the east coast as Gisborne and right through to North Cape, often in association with other classic native trees.
This tree is a strong upright specimen with attractive shiny green, leather-like foliage. Tawapou grows to a height of 4m within ten years and will reach a maximum height of 15m and is dioecious (male and female flowers borne on separate trees). It produces large berries that start green, and over the next weeks turn yellow, then orange, then red, then speckled red, and finally a magnificent mahogany!. The hard, smooth seeds were used by Maori as beads for making necklaces in years gone by.
Tawapou produces good quality strong timber ranging in colour from pale to dark brown, sometimes streaked with black. This black streaking and the strength of the timber led to its common name, ironwood.
It prefers good soil and likes sheltered frost-free sites, though it will sustain mild frosts. Tawapou makes a much-admired street tree.