Claire wrote today’s entry:
Thank you to Tony Foster (Tonyfoster@Flickr) of Kaeo, New Zealand, for this close-up of the inflorescence of Knightia excelsa. The photograph was made during full bloom in October of last year, and submitted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Check out Tony’s Phytography weblog!
Knightia excelsa, otherwise known as rewarewa, is a Proteaceae native to New Zealand in the North Island and Marlborough Sounds of the South Island. It is one of only three species of Knightia (the other two are native to New Caledonia). Also known as “New Zealand honeysuckle”, rewarewa is the more widely used name, and of Mäori origin. Knightia excelsa has a cultural importance to the Mäori people; it has been suggested that the large seed-pods (a link to Tony’s weblog) of this evergreen tree are the exact model of Mäori canoes (PDF) (they make excellent toy canoes, as well).
Knightia excelsa has other practical applications in honey production and woodworking. The attractive timber is light, grainy, and reddish-orange; it is most commonly used for ornamental inlays and smaller items as it is not durable and retains a lot of moisture (I suggest an image search for rewarewa wood to get an idea of what woodwork with this species looks like).
Since the image today is of the flowers of Knightia excelsa, it is also worth noting that they are pleasantly fragrant, rich in nectar, and mostly bird-pollinated. The fascinating inflorescence is likely meant for decreasing cross-pollination and making the nectar reward accessible to frequenters like tuis and bellbirds.