View this email in your browser

Give your peepers a break, go on, and let them rest on one of the world’s more rare botanical species, our very own New Zealand native, Elingamita (Elingamita johnsonii). This very pretty shrub or small tree is the only member of its genus, and it is at risk, though not under threat, in the wild. That’s because it is found only on West Island in the Three Kings group fifty-five miles north of Cape Reinga. It has though also managed to establish a hold on two small nearby rock islets in the Princes Group, Hinemoa and Arbutus Rocks. As the only place on the planet where Elingamita is found in the wild, it could easily be lost to random events such as lightning-ignited fire and other forms of damage. The islands are rat-free, but in cultivated gardens rats have displayed a healthy appetite for E. johnsonii fruit.

Elingamita johnsonii is a dioecious single-leader spreading tree that flourishes with the sturdy leathery growth typical of off-shore island species. This tree grows slowly to 3m within 10 years up to a maximum of 5m, with the crown often spreading up to 5m. The stiff dark green glossy leaves are similar to karaka, but on shorter stems. They are 10-18cm long and 4-9cm wide with prominent mid-ribs and defined veins. The overall effect is of lush subtropical foliage. The grey bark is smooth.

In February tiny flowers begin to bloom in clusters (panicles) through to May appearing at the ends of branches. Occasionally Elingamita also flowers between August and November. Male flowers are cream or pale yellow, and female flowers are yellowish to pink. Male and female flowers normally occur on separate trees (dioecious). Insects love these flowers. 

Fruit takes a year, possibly two years to ripen so it is not unusual to see fruit on the tree at any time. The ripe fruit is a striking red drupe with a single seed inside and succulent white flesh. They are exceptionally attractive and birds, skinks and geckos are most partial to them. Unripe fruit is green, yet still manages to afford the tree a decorative appearance. Each round fruit can reach up to 20mm wide, and hangs with others in tight clusters. They are definitely edible; tasting apparently like an oily salted apple.

A northern coastal tree, it is normally an understorey shrub associated with pohutukawa and other coastal shrubs, but on Hinemoa Rock it is emerging as the canopy in exposed places. Elingamita is sensitive to frost but A. Eagle, 2006, records its remarkable ability to recover from drought without loss of leaf even after both leaves and stems have shrivelled. 

This extraordinarily lovely native makes an excellent small specimen tree for smaller northern coastal gardens.

   $65 each          $580 each

Elingamita (E. johnsonii) is named after an historical maritime event. In 1902 the 2,585 tonne steamship Elingamite sailed from Sydney with 136 passengers and fifty-nine crew to New Zealand.  Four days later on 9 November she struck West Island in the Three Kings group in dense fog and sank within 20 minutes. Forty-five people drowned. When decorated WW1 hero, major Magnus Earle Johnson retired from the army in 1940, he sailed coastal New Zealand in his small keel yacht, the Rosemary. On one trip in 1950 he collected botanical specimens from just above the cliffs where the Elingamite was sunk. It was the first discovery of the tree, and was named after the ill-fated ship. Johnson went on, with students and botanists as crew, to make at least eight voyages to the Three Kings, and thoroughly explored the natural history of the islands. A seaweed endemic to the Three Kings, Sargassum johnsonii, also bears his name.

  • Elingamita grows easily from fresh seed but could take up to a year to germinate 
  • Treat for weevils before sowing into trays
  • Seedlings will grow quickly and prefer semi-shade, warmth and moisture
  • Once the plant has established, it thrives in full sun 
  • Elingamita does best in rich, moist, free-draining soils 
  • Because it is predominantly dioecious, male and female plants are both required to produce the splendid red fruit 
  • Cuttings tend to be slow to strike
  • Conventional cleft grafts take quite readily
  • Elingamita is sensitive to cold and intolerant of frost

Thank you to our reader, Maureen Young, who spotted the error in
our Two Minute Tree Break on the Family Pennantiaceae, in which we wrongly published Dendrobium macropus as the genus for
Pennantia endlicheri. Dendrobium is an orchid genus.

For price and availability list

102 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana

Copyright © 2020 Takana Native Tree Nursery, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Takana Native Tree Nursery
51 Sylvan Avenue
Auckland, Auckland -
New Zealand

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.