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Enjoy pushing your focus out for a few moments to look at Kohuhu (Pittosporum tenuifolium). Kohuhu was well utilised by early Maori, and is today one of the most planted small trees, both as an attractive specimen tree, and as a shelter or buffer plant. Matipo is a Myrtle and only superficially similar to Kohuhu, which has very dark, almost black stems while Kohuhu has dark red stems.

Pittosporum species are contained in the genus, Pittosporum. Of approximately 200 species, twenty-six are found in New Zealand. The name, pittosporum is translated loosely as, pitch-seeded, and relates to the clear pitch-like sticky goo inside the seed case and surrounding the seeds. This gluey mess sticks to bird feathers and moth bellies and enables the seed to achieve wide dispersal. Many Pittosporum species produce perfumed flowers and some are quite flamboyant though most are barely noticeable, so these smaller tree species tend to be selected more for their bright foliage and graceful upright forms.

Kohuhu (Pittosporum tenuifolium) is a densely-leafed very hardy evergreen which grows quickly to between 4m -10m depending on conditions. It is drought, wind, and frost tolerant and will grow on most soils. The slim trunk is considered thick at 50cm diameter. When the dark-coloured branchlets are broken they emit a pleasant fragrance. The tough shiny pale green leaves are even lighter on the underside, have wavy edges, and can grow to as long as 7cm although are generally between 2.5 – 5cm.

Between September and November Kohuhu is in bloom with deep purple inconspicuous flowers which deepen in colour to black over the season. They grow as a single bloom in the leaf axils, and sometimes as clusters. The flowers produce sweet nectar with an intense fragrance which is most pronounced on humid evenings and can be smelled from several feet away. It attracts moths and other night-flying insects. Once the fruit (a thin woody capsule) ripens in January to March, it splits into two or three segments to expose seeds immersed in a sticky substance. A wide range of birds are attracted to the nectar, fruit and seeds.

Pittosporum tenuifolium makes an attractive specimen tree and is an ideal plant in the background as shelter or as a visual buffer. It likes a good trim and makes an excellent hedging plant. It is endemic to New Zealand and is found up to 900m all over the country except west of the divide in the South Island. 


$95 each

Other Pittosporum species available in takana stock

Pittosporum Karo

(Pittosporum crassifolium)

Hardy, compactly branched evergreen tree growing vigorously to 3m in ten years, up to 9m. Withstands strong wind and salt spray, and very light frost when mature. Small scented deep crimson flowers from September to December. Ideal for coastal sites. Excellent hedging, or background plant as a screen or shelter.

$95 each         $160 each

Stephens Island

A compact hardy evergreen coastal tree with a tidy habit and attractive dark green foliage. Grows to 3m in ten years and up to 10m. Drought, wind, frost, and salt tolerant and grows in most soils. Small dark red scented flowers from September to November. Excellent as a specimen tree, shelter, dense hedging, or visual buffer. Wide range of birds and insects attracted to nectar, fruit and seeds.

$95 each

Pittosporum Eugenoides Tarata

(Pittosporum eugenoides)

Hardy evergreen growing quickly up to 13m. Pale yellow-green leaves with foliage from the ground up. Greenish-yellow, sweet scented flowers October to December. Fruits October to January. Tolerates mild drought and poor soils. Needs light. Beautiful specimen, ideal background plant, and excellent hedging.

$95 each

Kohuhu timber is pale beige and compact with a straight grain and uniform texture. It is a hardwood, tremendously strong (90% stronger than English oak), resilient, and pliable. In contact with the ground it will rot, although it was often used by pioneering farmers for fencing rails. Cabinetmakers used it as inlays.

  • Early Maori collected the fragrant resin of Kohuhu by cutting draining channels into the bark. The essential oil contains alpha pinene, a terpene (turps). The resin was added to Titoki and Kohia oils to produce a fragrance for scented sachets hung from the neck.  
  • In combination with puha the resin was also used as a chewing gum. 
  • Kohuhu leaves were pulverised to make a paste used on horses to relieve saddle sores
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium was used to raise tapu on the sick. Maori also steamed and boiled a concoction made from Kohuhu and flax root heart which, taken night and morning, relieved ague and bleeding. The concoction also formed part of a recipe for treating bruises. Parts of Kohuhu were used in a recipe for the relief of itching, scalp eczema, and other skin ailments. 
  • Tuhoe used Kohuhu in combination with six other plants to line steam ovens when cooking tawa kernels.
  • Kohuhu hybridises with other pittosporums, mostly P. colensoi, P. crassifolium, and P. ralphii, so it can have a variety of forms. Many cultivars exhibit variety in leaf proportions, colour, shape, and plant profile.
  • Because it is a fast grower, Kohuhu makes an efficient nurse crop for species requiring shade 
  • This species is often in company with other species that populate forest remnants at the bottom of terraces and river beds. Kohuhu is an early inhabitor of areas where prior vegetation has been disturbed. It is prominent, along with Manuka, Kanuka and bracken, on farmland in reversion.
  • In a large container Kohuhu makes a lovely patio plant 
  • In the ground it does well on most soils but doesn’t enjoy wet feet
For price and availability list
* All prices are exclusive of GST
PLEASE NOTE:  takana will not be delivering any trees or
allowing any visitors to our nurseries during this Level 4 alert period.

102 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana

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