Knightia excelsa

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.

Knightia excelsa

6 responses to “Knightia excelsa”

  1. Deb Lievens

    I made a trip to New Zealand in Nov. and saw a few of these trees. Thanks for highlighting it. I was practically hanging from the lower branches trying to get a photograph. I was fascinated by the blossoms. Actually bought a rewarewa cheese spreader and later connected wood with plant. It is lovely. Would have loved to see the seed pods, but it was a treat to see my first Proteid in the wild.

  2. Island Jim

    That would make a great desktop wallpaper.

  3. wendy
  4. Bonnie

    Tony’s link is fantastic. Not that my old brain is going to remember those terms but it is a great learning site for the younger minds. 🙂

  5. elizabeth a airhart

    thank you -the links are great so is the photo and mr foster
    if you come up with a plant that will stop the flu bug
    the whole world would be greatful if you could do that
    right now i know i would be greatful

  6. Maire Smith

    It’s lovely to see someone using a marker to indicate the long sound of the A in Māori (vowel length is very important for meaning in that language), but it’s a little odd for it to be a diaresis. I know this symbol used to be used, I think because people didn’t have access to modern fonts, but the usual symbol is the macron.
    Lovely photo!

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