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Beilschmiedia tawa

May 31st 2005

 Beilschmiedia tawa
Beilschmiedia tawa tawa
A tall tree to 30 meters. Commmon in North Island forests. More cold tolerant than Taraire. Leaves 6cm x 2 cm. Tawa grows to be a solid canopy tree. Their large purple drupes are a staple food of  birds, with their fleshy, fruity endocarps. The seeds would have been dispersed by large beaked birds, most of which are now extinct  (moa, kakapo) The kaka and kereru are now the only birds capable of ingesting such a large seed. The ability of tawa  to survive in the wild is now dependent on the association the tree has with these birds. As the seed is passing through the bird's gut the endocarp is digested while the seed passes cleanly out of the bird in its droppings and is spread throughout the forest. The seed is a favoured food of the Wood Pigeon.
Tawa has a graceful manner in which the willow like foliage hangs from the branches. When the wind blows and the sun is shining this tree is a garden splendour as the leaves display their blue-glaucous undersides. It grows as a rather slender tree to 7 metres in height and becomes more graceful with size. It is ideal as a specimen tree on a lawn, or as light overhead cover for shade plants. It prefers a rich soil which is free draining. Water over summer.
The seeds are large and full of nutrients and endosperm. They are quick to germinate in a warm environment. They should be sown straight after collection and not be allowed to dry out. Wash them in running water between your hands to remove any remaining flesh.  Sow in a warm spot in a PB3/4 size  pot or large root trainer.
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