This article was published in the Titirangi Tatler, June 2009
What is Hoheria populnea ?
Or you can call it 'thousand jacket', just like the early settlers, because of the many layers of net fibres making up the bark 'jacket'. Whatever you call it, it is one of New Zealand's fastest growing trees.
In the home garden you can expect lacebark to grow to 6m and live for about 10 years. However, in ideal conditions of rich soil and with surrounding trees forcing upright growth, it can reach 9m and live 20 to 50 years. By that time it may have a trunk of 40 -50 cm diameter which makes it a substantial tree.
Why would you plant a tree that grows so fast and might die so soon? Well, it is a beautiful tree with white flowers rather like spring cherry blossom, except lacebark flowers in autumn. But the more important reason for growing lacebark is to attract woodpigeons into your garden. They love to eat the foliage and will risk tumbling to the ground, sidling along a branch in an effort to eat the outermost, succulent new leaves.
Hoheria populnea is the species recommended for the Waitakere Ranges but the likelihood is that the local species is really a swarm of forms merging with Hoheria sextylosa. It's the number of styles that matter and you can count these best right now (June) as the seed is maturing and the number of winged seeds per cluster will reveal the plant's parentage. 5 winged clusters equal Hoheria populnea. Six or more wings per cluster and it is probable that Hoheria sextylosa is a part of your tree's lineage.
We would love to know the relative numbers growing in the Waitakere area. Phone us on 8186467 or email to email@example.com