Native plants


Kawakawa fruit

Scientific name: Macropiper excelsum
English name: Pepper tree

Pioneer Tree, shrub (under 10m) - native to the Wellington Region
Suits: damp, shade, partial shade, sunny, shelter, coastal forest garden, coastal and dune garden, small garden or balcony, wetlands and water features

About Kawakawa

Probably one of our most well known plants. Big heart shapes fleshy leaves and fruit favourited by many bird species including the kereru. An important understorey species in coastal forest as being very shade tolerant.

A small tree/shrub, sometimes up to 5 meters, but more often less than that with jointed black twigs and trunk, almost bambu looking in shape. The heart shaped leaved are large and lime green in color, but may be yellowish-green when growing in more exposed situations, and are often full with holes resulted from the browsing by the attractice kawakawa caterpillar, Cleora scriptaria. To get rid of the browsing caterpillar the plant defenses it self with producing more toxcins. The toxins in the leaf has a long history of medicinal purposes for maori including tea. The tiny male and female flowers are arranged in upright spikes and growing on separate plants. These are later turned into oval fruits that gradually swell and become fleshy to form small, berry-like fruits that are yellow to bright orange. These are very sweet for consumption, however the black seed have a quite distinctive pepper taste just like the leaves.

Easy to grow and maintain in most garden situations. A Kawakawa should be in every garden!

Provides for birds

  Nectar Fruit Seeds
Key . . .

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Read more about gardening for birds or see full nectar calendar.

Provides for lizards

  • Fruit

Read more about gardening for lizards.

More detail