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Serendipitous supply
When the Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust wanted to give a gift of plants, locally sourced from Rarangi Beach, east of Blenheim, they came to Oratia. Not only could we provide an eco-sourced species, it was also a plant which had since disappeared from the region!

This is the Trust's story.

» Click here for details
Beilschmiedia tawa

Family
Lauraceae

Synonyms
Laurus tawa A.Cunn., Nesodaphne tawa (A.Cunn.) Hook.f., Laurus victoriana Colenso, Beilschmiedia tawaroa A.E.Wright

Distribution
In the North Island and north-eastern corner of the South Island.

Description
A tall tree reaching 25m in the forest, but around 8-10m in a garden. It has delicate, pale, thin narrow leaves, 5-10cm long, insignificant flowers and striking dark purple drupes about 2.5cm long, much loved by native wood pigeons.

Beilschmiedia tawa is one of three species endemic to this country. Cooked by being steamed or roasted in fire ashes, tawa kernels were a very valuable food for pre-European Maori, often being kept for years as a standby. The berries were also eaten by children, though had to be fully ripe to be very palatable.

Cultivation
Likes a moist free-draining soil, but can tolerate drier conditions. It grows slowly and needs frost protection when young however, it makes a great specimen tree in the garden and can be used in a mixed planting of native trees if there is a large enough area.

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