Kōwhai (North Island)





Sophora tetraptera

This native nitrogen fixing small tree,known as the North Island or Large-leaved Kōwhai, grows naturally only in the central east of the North Island. It has larger, more widely spaced leaves and larger flowers than other species. An abundance of these distinctive yellow bell-shaped flowers are produced in late winter through to early spring, attracting tui and other nectar feeding birds. Kererū also love the leaves and tender young leaf shoots.

The Kōwhai is spiritually significant to Māori and is said to symbolise personal growth and moving on from the past. When the first yellow flowers of kōwhai appeared, certain iwi knew this as the best time for planting kumara. If the blossoms appear on the tree from the lower branches upwards, it is said that a warm fruitful season will follow but if the blossoms appear from the crown downloads, the season will be cold and wet. The flowering of the kōwhai is also a sign that kina (sea urchins) and
tipa (scallops) are in their prime.

The heartwood, bark and sapwood contain a compound with high anti-fungal properties and have been used medicinally by Māori.  A solution from boiling the bark or the leaves can be used on cuts, wounds and infections and to help with broken bones, itching, shingles, dandruff and gonorrhoea. Note that all parts of the kowhai plant are said to be poisonous if ingested, however a decoction of bark has been traditionally drunk for medicinal purposes.

Other uses of kōwhai include the roots for shafts of fish hooks, and yellow pigment of the flowers to make a dye. Kōwhai fence posts can also last up to 100 years.

Mature height 10-15m.

Certified Organic Plant

Freight:  full list of freight and packing charges


Additional information


11cm Pot, PB5 (equiv 3 litre)