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Good that you stopped for a minute, because here’s a very smart, and unfortunately, endangered New Zealand native tree to give your eyes something to enjoy, Maire Tawhake (Syzygium maire). The habitat of Maire Tawhake has been significantly reduced by extensive land drainage and development of swampy areas for agriculture. This tree will successfully establish on well-drained sites, but those growing in swamps which are then drained most often die within two years.

Maire Tawhake is an upright specimen tree with pale bark and khaki coloured foliage which forms an attractive conical shape. It grows to three metres within ten years, and continues thereafter to a maximum of 15m. The word, syzygium comes from the Greek word syzygos meaning joined, and refers to the Maire Tawhake’s characteristically paired leaves carried on opposing sides of the stem. In swampy situations this tree often develops buttressing flanges on the lower portion of its trunk for stabilisation, and pneumatophores (short upright aerial roots) reaching up from its normal roots to facilitate better aeration. 

Blooming profusely in creamy white, bisexual brushy flowers similar to rata from March to July, Syzygium maire is a sight to behold. Stumpy 3cm bright-red fleshy berries carrying a single seed and hanging in clusters ripen a year later between January and December. Birds, especially kereru and kokako, love them and they are also
suitable for human consumption, cooked or raw.

Commonly known as Swamp Maire, this handsome native of the Myrtle family is quite happy with wet feet, so does well in damp or riparian situations. It is frequently found on coastal and riparian sites, as well as in lowland coastal forests and in slightly higher country up to 400m. Maire Tawhake is endemic throughout the North Island with greatest density in the Waikato and is often found in the company of Nikau, Kohekohe, Pukatea, Turepo, and Ti Kouka.  The rare occasional specimen is found in Nelson and Marlborough but these locations are at the extremity of its distribution.

Maire Tawhake is a superb specimen tree and easily cultivated though drought-intolerant. Very young trees are frost tender. It is under-utilised in planted landscapes yet this elegant tree, particularly when in bloom, is amongst the most beautiful of New Zealand’s native trees. Used in planted situations, whether shaded or sunny, not only enhances the location but contributes to Maire Tawhake’s continued survival as a species.

        
 $130 each         $190 each

The conservation status of Syzygium maire was raised to Nationally Critical in 2017, when Myrtle Rust turned up in NZ.  Many populations of Maire Tawhake now qualify as ‘Living Dead’, meaning they are alive now but are in slow terminal decline, standing only as remnants on partially drained farmland which was originally riparian forest. In Wellington it is on the regionally threatened list as relict.

Maire Tawhake timber is straight with a uniform grain. It is compact and heavy, and being also hard timber is strong and durable. The wood is a pale cream colour, sometimes beige, without any discernible patterning. It was highly valued for use in breastwork, jetties, mooring posts, marine piling, fenceposts and for other construction which required strong enduring timbers.

  • The timber was prized as long-burning firewood
  • Maire Tawhake berries have18x the level of antioxidants that blueberries and blackberries  are so favoured for
  • The tart fruit was favoured by Maori children in early days. Apparently the flesh is more-or-less palatable, but also quite pungent.
  • Maire Tawhake is a one-stop shop for many birds and is a source of nectar, fruit and seeds 
  • Maori used the inner bark to make a lotion for treating ringworm, and Syzygium maire was also used as a medicine taken internally for asthma, but few other medicinal uses for it are recorded.
  • Maori coloured their flax garments in early years with blue-black dye made from the twigs and bark of Maire Tawhake
  • Maire Tawhake can be propagated by transplanting seedlings found under parent trees in healthy Syzygium maire copses
  • If propagating from seed, take care when removing the outer flesh because the seed will not germinate if even slightly damaged. 
  • Soak seeds in water until flesh rots off and sow on damp or even partially submerged potting mix and do not allow to dry out
  • Sown fresh, seeds should show signs of a seedling in eight weeks 
  • It is possible, with patience, to propagate from semi-hardwood cuttings
  • Syzygium maire is ideal on water-prone sites and is happy with sun or shade.
For price and availability list
CLICK HERE
* All prices are exclusive of GST

102 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana
don@takana.co.nz

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