Hoheria populnea



Houhere, also known as the Lacebark tree, is a smaller-sized native tree that can grow up to 10-12 meters in height. It has a slender trunk and a dense, round crown with many thin branches. The tree bark is smooth and grey-brown, and the leaves are thin, green, and slightly serrated.


Houhere is native to New Zealand and can be found throughout the country in coastal, lowland, and upland forests, as well as scrub and riparian areas. It grows best in well-drained soils and can tolerate both sun and shade.

Cultural Importance

Houhere has many uses in Maori traditional medicine, including treating diarrhea and dysentery. The tree bark also made ropes, baskets, and fishing nets. The tree is also prized for its ornamental value, producing a profusion of white flowers in summer.

Ecological Role

Houhere is an important food source for birds, including the bellbird, tui, and kereru, which feed on nectar and fruit. The tree also provides bird shelter and nesting sites, and its dense foliage helps reduce soil erosion and improve water quality.

Associated Birds:

Fantail: Houhere trees attract Fantails due to their dense foliage, which provides an excellent hunting ground for insects. The birds can flit through the branches, catching insects that are drawn to the tree.

Shining Cuckoo: These migratory birds are attracted to Houhere trees for their potential as nesting sites. The dense canopy and tall trunks of Houhere trees offer suitable locations for these cuckoos to lay their eggs.

Kererū: Houhere trees attract Kererū due to their fruit. Kererū feed on a variety of native fruits, and Houhere trees provide a consistent food source, aiding in seed dispersal.

Silvereye: These small birds are attracted to Houhere trees for the insects and spiders that inhabit the tree's foliage. Silvereyes glean insects and other invertebrates from leaves, and the tree's canopy offers an ample food source.

Whitehead: These birds are drawn to Houhere trees for the small insects and spiders that inhabit the tree's bark and foliage.

Bellbird: These birds are attracted to Houhere for feeding on the nectar produced by Houhere's flowers.

Conservation Status

Houhere is not currently classified as a threatened species, although it is sometimes impacted by introduced pests such as possums and rats.

Interesting Facts

  • The inner bark of the Houhere can be used to make a natural dye that produces shades of brown and yellow.
  • Maori once used the leaves of houhere as a substitute for tea.
  • Houhere is sometimes referred to as the New Zealand native holly, as its leaves are similar in appearance to those of the European holly.

Conservation Tips

To help conserve the houhere, it is important to prevent the spread of pests such as possums and rats, which can damage the tree and impact its ability to reproduce. It is also important to avoid removing houhere from natural areas without permission and to plant native trees, including houhere, in urban and suburban areas to provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.