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Pohutukawa Tree Facts

By Brian Albert ; Updated September 21, 2017

Pohutukawa trees--scientific name "Metrosideros excelsa"--are a member of the myrtle family and are often nicknamed the New Zealand Christmas tree because they put on a striking flower display around the holiday season.

Native Range

Pohutukawa trees are native to most of New Zealand but have spread around the Southern hemisphere. In some places they are considered invasive.


These trees prefer areas that do not receive frost at night, usually around the coastlines of New Zealand. They have adapted the ability to deal with salt mist and can grow in craggy rocks along the shoreline.


Flowering occurs from November to February. The major flower features are the long stamens which are usually red--but yellow, pink and apricot colored variations have been recorded.


Mature trees growing in fertile soil can reach 65-feet-high and 115 feet across the crown. The large canopy is supported by numerous trunks and aerial roots that sprout from the branches.

Landscape Uses

Because of their size, pohutukawa trees are only suitable for large open areas. The roots are known to invade basements and even squeeze between joints of underground water pipes so they should be planted well away from buildings and utilities.