Rare in the North Island, found more commonly on the west coast of the South where the rainfall is higher.
Metrosideros umbellata is a small forest tree native to New Zealand also known as Southern rātā. The tree can reach a height of 15m but it has a slow growth rate so in cultivation it more commonly reaches a height of 2m after 5 years. The Southern rātā inhabits most of the South Island in coastal and lowland forests but can also be found in some areas in the North Island. Masses of red flowers similar to the pohutukawa flowers occur mid december. Easy to distinguish form the Nothern rātā because of its smaller size and longer pointy leaves which have a shiny top surface.
The juvenile tree has beautiful brown and purple foliage. Avoid frosts until the tree is established but after this the rātā is hardy and tolerant of most conditions. Can make an effective low growing hedge if clipped and pruned.
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