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Time for a break; just a two minute tree break to freshen your eye and your focus with a beautiful New Zealand native tree, Taraire (Beilschmiedia tarairi). Taraire is a close relative of Tawa and it comes from the Lauraceae family, an ancient flowering family with its genesis in the days of Gondwana. Lauraceae are laurels and include fifty-five genera and over a thousand species including the avocado, bay laurel, cinnamon, and camphor laurels.

Taraire is a dioecious smaller evergreen than its cousin, the Tawa. This upright forest specimen tree grows steadily to 6m within ten years to a maximum of 20m. As a shade-tolerant tree, when it grows in the forest it tends to be under the canopy and carries a sparse crown of horizontal branches which stand upright in the upper reaches. But when it grows out in the sun-fed open, Taraire crowns are broad, bushy and crowded. 

The foliage is made up of large, robust, glossy leaves which when young are coated on the underside with a red-brown down. Leaves are slow to rot on the ground and build-up on the forest floor in layers. This effectively smothers other potential seedlings thereby leaving wide, easily navigated pathways.

As the new season’s growth appears from October to December, so too do loose clusters of inconspicuous green flowers on inflorescences up to 10cm long. The fruit sets and is ripe by February drawing kereru to an important food source. They love the 4cm long deep purple ovoid fruit with its bright green flesh reminiscent of the avocado. These iconic native birds are big enough to swallow the large single stone contained in the drupe and are its main source of seed dispersal.

Beilschmiedia tarairi is endemic and the dominant hardwood species in coastal and lowland forests in Northland. It’s found from East Cape to the Far North with greatest concentration between Kaipara and the Bay of Islands. Because it is shade-tolerant it frequently forms the understorey of kauri forests where it favours the most optimum sites and best soils. Where Taraire grows, above average moist and fertile soils are always indicated. Taraire prefers damp, free-draining soils and will not tolerate dry ridge positions or poorly drained ground. It is frost tender when young and prefers loosely sheltered sites.

This very attractive tree is ideal for parks, in groves, and well-suited to sheltered farms.

  $60 each         $110 each        $650 each

Maori children ate the plum-shaped Taraire fruit despite its quite noticeable turpentine flavour which is common in the berries of New Zealand’s native trees. Apparently the fruit is rather refreshing once the taste has been acquired. Early settlers thought Taraire seeds were poisonous but Maori roasted or boiled the seeds and ate them without ill effect. Once cooked, the seeds took on a texture and flavour comparable to potatoes.

  • Taraire is classified as a hardwood timber 
  • It is lightweight and has a straight close grain with good sawing and dressing properties
  • The sapwood is whitish to light brown, while the heartwood is a light reddish-brown
  • The timber is easily split and will accept a good natural finish similar to Tawa 
  • It tends to be brittle and prone to splitting, which makes it difficult to nail
  • Taraire dries well but rots quickly when exposed to the elements
  • Dried wood is susceptible to borer attack from Lyctus and Anobium boring beetles
  • Once boron diffusion treatment became available in the 1950s it became possible to utilise Taraire to a greater degree 
  • It was then used for flooring, furniture, light carts, ship’s blocks, picture frames, turnery and mouldings
  • It was also used for firewood 
  • Growing Bielschmiedia tarairi from fresh seed is quite simple
  • Collect fallen fruit from beneath the tree from April through May and soak it in water
  • The seeds will germinate more easily if the fruit pulp is removed from the seeds after soaking
  • Stratify at 4°C for one month
  • Treat against weevils before sowing into trays and placing in a warm, moist shaded spot
For price and availability list
* All prices are exclusive of GST

102 Omaha Flats Road, Matakana

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