Kohekohe, one of the funkiest trees in town!

There are four reasons that make kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile) one of the funkiest trees in town    

First, unlike many other trees, Kohekohe flowers sprout from the trunk and branches. This feature is known as cauliflory and it’s believed to be an adaptation to pollination and seed dispersal by animals that can’t fly or insects living at the ground level.   

Branches of Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile) with flowers. Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Branches of Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile) with flowers. Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Close up to a cluster of flowers forming on the trunk of Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile). Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

A close up of a cluster of flowers forming on the trunk of Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile) at Bush City. Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Second, Kohekohe trees do not flower every year. Blooming generally occurs during early winter and after pollination of the flowers has occurred fruits will take up to 15 months to ripen. Thus, you will not see flowers on trees that are currently fruiting or vice versa.    

Fruits of Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile). Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Fruits of Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile). Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Third, Kohekohe is the only representative in New Zealand of the tree genus Dysoxylum which is otherwise only found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.    

Fourth, Kohekohe was one of the first trees collected in the country by the scientists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander during the first trip of Captain James Cook to New Zealand in 1768. We  have this very first  sample of Kohekohe in our collection at Te Papa. This specimen is over 240 years old!      

  

You can see further details of this specimen  by visiting our collection on line!  http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?oid=329062&term=Kohekohe 

 

Kohekohe trees were once common in coastal and lowland forests of New Zealand.  Nowadays, their number has been reduced due to habitat destruction and damage by possums. Fortunately you don’t need to go very far to see this interesting tree. There are several Kohekohe trees growing in Bush City and one of them is going to bloom any time soon! Don’t miss it!

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