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Tree Botanics

Kawaka Previous

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Other Names: (Libocedrus plumosa) New Zealand Cedar = Kaikawaka

This graceful tree, attaining heights of up to 25m, member of the Cupressaceae family, occurs in lowland and hilly forests in the North Island from Mangonui to Roturua approximately & the Northwest of the South Island around the Nelson area from sea level to approximately 600m. Kawaka has a straight trunk between 1m - 2m in diameter often branchless until the conical kawaka-trunk-bark-arbortechnix-tree-botanicshead. The bark is stringy and falls away in long, narrow strips, light brown in colour, loose and fibrous. The strip shedding of bark is a distinctive feature of this species and a readily available identification key in the wild. The leaves appear as graceful, feathery foliage, triangular, those that project from thekawaka-flower-arbortechnix-tree-botanics sides of the branchlets are up to 4mm long. The flattened ones along the upper and lower sides are only 1mm - 2mm. Juvenile shoots are broad and feathery whilst adult shoots are more or less compressed. The male strobili (a reproductive structure characterized by overlapping scale-like parts, as a pine cone or the fruit of the hop.) are produced from the tips of the small branchlets. The female cones are about a cm in length, a little larger with 4 scales and when kawaka-cone-atx-tree-identificationripe become woody. The cones are brown when ripe and appear in March. Kawaka wood is dark red with darker streaks through the grain and is extremely durable. It is used for shingles and building work given the hardy nature and physical properties of the timber. Libocedrus plumosa is also known as kaikawaka.