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Breaking your focus to concentrate on something completely else often helps bring your original focus into sharp relief. We think a lovely native tree such as Matipo (Myrsine australis) makes an ideal mind-break, but it has many more uses. Maori utilised the resilient timber for waka keels, adze stocks, and gardening tools (sticks for digging), while Europeans made cabinets from it long before milling native forest became anachronistic.

Matipo is a red-stemmed, slender, upright specimen tree which grows slowly to three metres at 10 years, up to a maximum six metres. Its preferred environment is riparian but this hardy native grows well anywhere it can establish. It can be found in forest lowlands, coastal, occasionally in montane areas, and on bush margins, and it is relatively common nationwide. M. australis is sometimes mistaken for a Pittosporum species but is a longer lived tree. It is drought, wind, and frost tolerant, as well as browse-resistant, since possums and other browsers appear to find it unpalatable.

Also known as Mapou, Mapau, and Red Matipo, M. australis is a dense substantial shrub with small yellowish crimped-edge leaves and lateral branches providing attractive foliage. It makes ideal easily shaped hedging. Flowering from January through to April, the tiny off-white flowers are barely evident but the fruit which grows in clusters of small black berries directly on the stem attracts native birds, and even blackbirds. The fruit is slow to mature (up to a year) so both flowers and fruit can be simultaneously present. Male and female flowers are borne on separate trees (dioecious). 

A most attractive specimen tree, Matipo is as happy in full sun, as it is in shade and makes an admirable visual screen or sturdy windbreak. Its hardiness makes it valuable in revegetation projects where it protects fragile seedlings while they develop. Providing there is a natural seed source, it is also a common early coloniser of abandoned land.

$70 each           $90 each         $650 each

Matipo is such a common native plant species in New Zealand that it has attracted many name variants over the years. Some of these include Red Mapou, Red Matipo, Mapau, Red Maple, and Red Matapiko.


  • Matipo wood is beech-like, pale, flexible and inclined to bend rather than break
  • It rots rapidly when in contact with the ground
  • The branches were used as garden digging sticks by Maori, and as sturdy adze hafts
  • Branchlets were used to clean teeth and a decoction was used to treat toothache
  • An infusion of leaves gave respite from arthritis, was a universal tonic, and a physic for skin disorders and intestinal worms 
  • Europeans made chairs from the branches, as well as tools and walking sticks
  • Birds love the fruit and are an important disperser of Matipo seed
  • The small deep purple-black fruit are drupes (single seed surround by flesh)
  • M. australis harbours a natural seed bank, holding some seed over in a dormant state so that unpredictably timed but successful germination occurs for over a year  
  • Germination generally follows a cooling period 
  • Matipo can be grown from seed or cuttings but is most easily grown from fresh seed
  • Seed is best collected in autumn and germinated indoors
  • Stratifying seed over four weeks improves germination rates 
  • Cuttings can be made in autumn and treated with hardwood rooting hormone, but rooting may take as much as a year
  • Plant in full sun or partial shade
  • Frequently used as hedging and responds well to shaping, but also makes a lovely specimen tree
* All prices are exclusive of GST

102 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana
0800TAKANA |

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Takana Native Tree Nursery
51 Sylvan Avenue
Auckland, Auckland -
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