Fuchsia excorticata Tree Fuchsia Kotukutuku Konini
Family Onagraceae (evening primrose family)
A tree reaching 13 metres. The bark loose and papery. The leaves are slender petioled, ovate-lanceolate, and 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 12 metres with a trunk to 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.
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 flowers are termed gynodieocious; having the sexes on separate trees. However, we find that the plant may have female flowers on one plant and perfect (male and female parts) on another plant.
One of the most striking features of the plant is 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.
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.
If you wish to learn more about native plants I suggest one of these natural history books from fishpond