Titoki is a medium-size tree which grows quickly to five metres within ten years and up to 12m. Its attractive form is supported by an erect clean trunk from which sturdy upright branches spread multiple dark green canopies in very mature trees. Juvenile trees have glossy leaves which become matt as they mature. New growth is initially pinkish adding to the attractiveness.
A.excelsus is generally dioecious and produces tiny pinkish-purple petal-less blooms on sparse panicles from October to December. The tough round finely-haired woody fruit pods take a year to mature and are often found on the tree with new flowers. The pod splits when mature to expose the bright fleshy fruit and the birds arrive to make merry with the bounty.
Titoki favours fertile well-drained alluvial soils but doesn’t do well in watery or arid ground. In the wild it can be found in coastal and lowland forests as part of the understorey on lower hills and river flats slightly further inland behind more salt-tolerant species. It is common across much of the country from Te Paki to midway down the South Island as far as Banks Peninsula up to a height of 600 metres.
Titoki has become over the past 25 years perhaps the most popular residential property native tree in the north island, despite not being dominant in many bush areas. An example of the discovery of the benefits of lesser known natives for ornamental and amenity uses.
Long lived Titoki is an ideal specimen or street tree, and works well in gardens, enjoying a good prune, or in parks. Young trees need frost protection, and all prefer somewhat wind-sheltered positions.