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PlantFiles: New Zealand Christmas Tree, Common Pohutakawa, Pohutukawa Tree
Metrosideros excelsa

Family: Myrtaceae (mir-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Metrosideros (met-roh-SID-er-oss) (Info)
Species: excelsa (ek-SEL-suh) (Info)

Synonym:Metrosideros excelsus
Synonym:Metrosideros tomentosa

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6 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Direct sow as soon as the ground can be worked
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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3 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive wylie5525 On Dec 19, 2009, wylie5525 from Altares, Terciera
Portugal (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have an old speciman in the center of my property and it is huge. After flowering, it starts covering the ground in red, and then comes the seeds. Little trees start growing, and if I want more, I dig them out of vases and transplant to individual containers. It takes about 5 years to get to a size where you can put it in the ground. We get big wind storms coming in off the Atlantic, but it doesn"t hurt the trees. The roots are invasive, so don't put it too close to a house. If started from seed, it takes a long time to start flowering (around 10 years).

Positive baiissatva On Sep 12, 2008, baiissatva from Dunedin
New Zealand wrote:

We are, strictly speaking, outside the natural range of this species, but it takes our conditions quite happily and has been extensively planted along the harbour here. Hardier than you might think, my trees were under 2m when we were hit with a -5C frost, the worst here in 12 years, and they sustained only very light leaf scorch, with flowering being unaffected. Once over this size they will take anything but a major, lengthy soil freeze.

Can take any wind you throw at it, gaining a more interesting form when exposed to the elements, though they put on height a lot more quickly with shelter. The species is hardier than the fancy cultivars, which tend to be crosses involving the more tender Pacific island Metrosideros.
Birds enjoy the nectar. The pruned wood is great fuel for smoking fish and meat etc. It is easily reproduced from cuttings.

Will grow on nasty clay hillsides right down to the water's edge, where it looks particularly lovely against the sea with its profuse red flowers in Summer (Xmas here in NZ)
Such a beautiful tree requiring so little attention.

Heavily predated here by the introduced Brushtail Possum pest species and currently endangered. Would definitely protect from flower/bud-munching species overseas.

See some of our plants and gardenalia at The Blackthorn

Positive koolkatken On May 26, 2005, koolkatken from Auckland
New Zealand wrote:

This is very common here in NZ of course. Grows well along coast-lines in wind and salt spray. Trunk is ruddy and gnarly looking. Beautiful colour at various times.

Neutral Baa On Oct 21, 2001, Baa wrote:

An upright, evergreen tree from New Zealand.

Has elliptic, glossy, dark green leaves, felted white beneath. Bears bright red flowers all packed in and looks very much like a bottle brush (Callistemon) flower.

Flowers June-August but indoors may flower later.

Likes a moist, well drained, neutral to acid soil in full sun and a sheltered position.

Not fully hardy and recommended as a conservatory plant in frost prone areas. May survive a minimum temperature of 32F.

Pruning is highly recommended as this tree can grow upto 70ft tall with a possible spread of 40 ft. Prune in February - late March, cut back crossing shoots and can be cut back quite hard.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Calabasas, California
San Diego, California
Whittier, California
Hawi, Hawaii
Kurtistown, Hawaii

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