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If you’re going to have a quick rest, make it one your eyes will enjoy and introduce them to the lofty, robust Pukatea (Laurelia novae-zealandiae).
The hearty but lightweight Pukatea timber was used in earlier years for boat-building and Maori built some waka from it, but it is prone to water-absorption and becoming heavy and soggy. Maori also used the bark medicinally as an analgesic. The active property is pukateine which has a similar chemical structure to morphine.

Pukatea is a tall, straight, specimen tree with small to medium light green, glossy leaves which are aromatic when crushed. It grows to a height of three metres at 10 years, up to a maximum of 35 metres. The lush crown is characteristically divided into many umbrella-like heads. L. novae-zealandiae has developed a stabilisation system which allows it to also occupy swampy or shallow soils. In these environments the tree develops slender triangular flanges reaching two metres or more from the roots up the trunk, effectively buttressing it.  This characteristic is common with tropical genera, in which Pukatea is loosely grouped. In wetter habitats it will also grow adaptive root structures known as pneumatophores – essentially small snorkel-roots above the water or mudline which allow it to breathe. Pukatea is vulnerable to serious frost and struggles in drought conditions. 

It flowers green blossoms from October to November and fruits throughout the year. Though dioecious, a peculiar Laurelia trait sees flowers of both genders appear on the same tree, and sometimes even on the same flower. Fruits are 2.5cm pods which split when ripe to liberate hairy seeds to the breeze.

This tall leafy specimen tree can be found from Nelson and Marlborough through to the Far North and frequently inhabits gullies. It grows on a variety of moist soils including limestone. Pukatea yields quality timber, and in cultivated situations makes good hedging.

$95 each          $950 each

L. novae-zealandiae is an easily worked, stable, relatively light hardwood timber. The wood is not particularly durable, but it is robust and resistant to marine borer. Its weight triples under saturation adding to its desirability as wharf piling, while detracting enormously from boat-building prospects. First-class Pukatea timber found European use in much earlier years for motor-body and boat-building, mining sluices, weatherboards, verandah flooring, trellises, clogs, bottle stoppers, and even wedge heels. Despite becoming easily waterlogged, logs were used for river canoes, and prized for carving, especially for figureheads.

  • Pukatea heartwood is coloured a consistent muted beige throughout, occasionally green-tinged or streaked with green
  • Sapwood is latte-coloured
  • The timber is a straight-grained lightweight hardwood which behaves much like a softwood 
  • It handles very easily under saw or machining and accepts hammered nails effortlessly
  • Pukatea was  a go-to for Maori who made broad use of it for several medicinal purposes
  • The analgesic qualities of the inner bark when pulped alleviated toothache, while boiling bark to produce a decoction provided a remedy for common skin complaints, syphilis, and ulcers. 
  • L. novae-zealandiae dried leaves and bark have been known to poison rats and sheep, suggesting that Pukatea medicines need to be treated with respect
  • In the early 1950s approximately 225 m³ was milled every year, significantly reducing its  prevalence in the wild  and today little, if any, makes it to a commercial mill
  • Pukatea is simple to grow from fresh seed
  • Seed frequently sprouts close to parent trees
  • Seedlings are susceptible to parasitic fungi for which there is no available treatment
* All prices are exclusive of GST

102 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana
0800TAKANA |

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