Metrosideros robusta

Northern rātā

Kingdom: Plantae > Phylum: Tracheophyta > Subphylum: Angiospermae > Class: Magnoliopsida > Order: Myrtales > Family: Myrtaceae > Subfamily: Myrtoideae > Tribe: Metrosidereae > Genus: Metrosideros > Species: Metrosideros robusta

Northern rātā has a very clear notch in the leaf tip:

Norther rata notch in leaf tip

Southern rātā  looks more like a classic Eucalyptus leaf:

Southern rata

The leaves of both of these trees have a smell very similar to Eucalyptus.  Northern and Southern rātā  and Eucalyputus are all in the same family, Myrtaceae.

Is it a tree that grows up from the ground or is it an epiphyte that grows down from the treetops?

It's both.  Most of the Northern rata growing around the Kohaihai carpark and at the entrance to Kahurangi on the mill road are trees growing from the ground.  Until they get quite large they just look like normal trees.  

They also grow from tree tops and put down aerial roots, leading to a crazy strangling type of tree.  Sometimes the original host tree is still there inside, usually dead because the rata canopy has shaded it out.

They also put down aerial roots from established Northern rata, then you get a completely nuts tree with many legs like the famous walking tree in Karamea.

Some of the northern rata between the Heaphy hut and the Lewis are about 5 m in diameter.  They're amazing.  Definitely book yourself into the Heaphy hut for a couple of nights so you can go exploring there, it's special :)

cbeem Fri, 07/04/2023 - 06:17

The Northern rātā failed to flower this year.  That's normal for rātā trees.  They don't flower every year.

Not so great if you are depending on rātā  honey though.

Observations - Kahurangi Point - Mōkihinui