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New Zealand Christmas tree

Metrosideros excelsa

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New Zealand Christmas tree: Metrosideros excelsa New Zealand Christmas tree: Metrosideros excelsa

A wide-spreading evergreen tree growing up to 5-6m high, but sometimes as high as 20m. Several branches originate close to the ground. The leaves are oblong to oval bright green and smooth leaves with a felty texture beneath. Crimson bottlebrush-like flowers appear in clusters from December to January and the fruits include a white or grey velvety capsule. This tree invades coastal fynbos on moist, peaty soils in the Western Cape

Additional Info

  • Common name New Zealand Christmas tree
  • Scientific name Metrosideros excelsa (Myrtaceae)
  • Alternative common names

    New Zealand bottlebrush (English), Nieu-Seelandse perdestert (Afrikaans)

  • Where does this species come from? New Zealand and Australia
  • What is its invasive status in South Africa? Existing legislation: CARA 2002 – Category 3 Proposed legislation: NEMBA – Category 1a
  • Where in South Africa is it a problem? Western Cape
  • How does it spread? Seed dispersal
  • Why is it a problem? It competes with and replaces indigenous species. Threatens biodiversity in coastal fynbos on moist, peaty soils
  • What does it look like? General description: A wide-spreading evergreen tree growing up to 5-6m high, but sometimes as high as 20m. Numerous branches originate close to the ground. Leaves: Oblong to oval bright green and smooth leaves with a felty texture beneath. Flowers: Crimson bottlebrush clusters appearing from December to January. Fruit/Seeds: Produces a white or grey velvety capsule
  • Does the plant have any uses? Used as an ornament and for shade
  • Plant me instead alternatives

    White Milkwood (Syderoxylon inerme), Coastal Silver-oak (Brachylaena discolour), Camphor Bush (Tarchonanthus campahoratus), Dune olive (Olea exasperate), Sand Olive (Dodonaea angustifolia), Sneezewood (Ptaeroxylon obliquum), Wild pepper tree (Loxostylis alata), Wild Almond (Brabejum stellatifolium), Blue flowered fountain bush (Psoralea pinnata), Lance-leaved myrtle (Metrosideros angustifolia)

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