Taraire - Beilschmiedia tarairi

Taraire on Motutapu

Taraire is a canopy tree with large oval leathery leaves and it can grow up to 22m. It's trunk is smooth and dark brown and can be as much as 1m in diameter. Although its flowers are insignificant, it has very large dark purple fruit that look a bit like olives.

Motutapu’s forests were reduced by volcanic eruption and human activity over time with only isolated remnants by the early twentieth century. Like so many native species, taraire had all but disappeared from the island.

When the Motutapu Restoration Trust added a number of forest giants to its native tree planting mix about fifteen years ago, taraire was an important species for inclusion. Seed was collected from mainland as well as the island for propagation to ensure genetic diversity.

Over 600 have been planted and taraire are now starting to, once again, flower and fruit on the island. They are a beautiful addition to the forest with their dense canopy and distinctively indented, leathery foliage. They also provide irresistible, invaluable food for kereru, which feast on their dark-coloured, plum-like fruit during autumn.

Now we are finding taraire seedlings in these planted areas on the island. This is clear evidence that the birds are doing a fine job of distributing seed across the island.

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