The pōhutukawa tree, also known as the Kiwi Christmas tree, is an evergreen tree endemic to New Zealand. Specifically, it grows along the coastal regions of the North Island. It blooms from November to January each year, displaying vibrant crimson flowers, and has become a national and easily recognizable symbol of summer and the Christmas season.
The pōhutukawa in full bloom:
Picture courtesy of OPOTIKI.
The Maori have many myths surrounding this tree. The most revered pōhutukawa is at Cape Reinga, an 800-year-old living tree that clings precariously to the cliffside. It is believed that the souls of the recently deceased jump from this tree as they depart our world for good.
A close-up of the pōhutukawa flower:
The pōhutukawa has been introduced to Australia, Spain, South Africa, and the American West Coast, where it is often considered an invasive species. It is related to the ʻōhiʻa lehua of Hawai’i.