Fuchsia excorticata Tree Fuchsia Kotukutuku Konini Family Onagraceae (evening primrose family)
A tree reaching 13 metres. Bark loose and papery. Slender petioled, ovate-lanceolate, thin leaves 9-12 cm long. The flowers are handsome and solitary, 2-3 cm long; blue green changing to red as they mature. The berry is 1-1.5 cm long purplish black holding between 10-30 seeds.
Found throughout New Zealand from lowland to sub alpine forests, often in disturbed soils in shady spots.
Kotukutuku is the largest Fuchsia in the world forming a tree to 13 metres with a trunk to 0.6 metres in diameter. It is common throughout all of New Zealand to about 1000 metres. It is one of the few deciduous trees in the New Zealand bush, losing its leaves over winter. It is common in damp forest margins and regenerating areas.
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The pendulous flowers of konini
The female stigma sits above and away from the pollen producing anthers. The flower desires to be pollinated by another individual. and in fact adopts strategies that ensure cross pollination.
The flowers are termed gynodieocious; the plant may have female flowers on one plant and perfect (male and female parts) on another plant.
The plant is identifiable by its tough gnarly trunk clothed in a fibrous stringy bark that gives this quick growing small tree a character of strength and endurance that does not suggest its actual youth. It is one of the few New Zealand deciduous trees
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“In spots less secluded from the solar rays than the general mass, I detected Fuchsia excorticata richly in flower; and what really added to the novelty and beauty of the plant is, its pendant flowers, on their first expansion, are of a bluish-green cast, which afterwards change to red; and thus the plant has at the same time flowers of two distinct colours: it forms a small tree of twelve feet in height.”
Allan Cunningham 1826 on the banks of the Cowa_cowa (Kawakawa), a branch of the Wycaddy (Waikare) Bay of Islands.
The berry is black or purple 10-12 mm long, elongated, sweet and delicious to eat. Maori named the berry Konini and on the West Coast of the South Island the plant is known by this name. It makes a sweet tasty jam.
The seeds are easy to germinate, if washed clean from the berries and sown directly on top of a fine seed raising mix. They should germinate in a week or two if placed in a warm moist spot. The seedlings are quick growing. Avoid letting the young plants dry out.
I whea koe I te tahuritanga o te rau o te kotukutuku
Where were you when the leaves of the Fuchsia tree (Fuchsia excorticata) began to grow in the spring
A reproach against those who were no where to be found when the work was to be done in planting season, but who may appear at the time of harvest.
Recent observations of the New Zealand Bush