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Sophora prostrata Dwarf Kowhai

May 29th 2004

Sophora microphylla

The small leaved kowhai tree is found from  Northland to Opotiki
Seeds of Kowhai can float and have a tough  seed coat (testa) that is impervious to water. Eventually, when conditions are suitable the seed will germinate. The seeds are also eaten by birds. Their journey through the acid environment of the gut dissolves away some of the testa and is an aid to germination.
Kowhai belong to the Legume family of plants. All legumes have similar structured flowers, seeds in pods and have nodules on their roots by which they absorb the fertiliser nitrogen, directly from the soil air. Other legumes include peas, beans, gorse and clover.
Kowhai are also native to the islands of the Pacific, and are found on the Pacific coast of South America. It is thought that the seeds from New Zealand plants floated throughout the Pacific Ocean and washed up on foreign shores. They eventually established themselves over a large range. They are a national Icon of Easter Island.
Click here for slideshow on Kowhai
Life-size Guide to New Zealand Native Ferns: Featuring the Caterpillars Which Feed on ThemA Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New ZealandGardener's Encyclopaedia of NZ Native PlantsTrees and Shrubs of New ZealandThe Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Native Trees