Kahikatea

Dacrycarpus dacrydioides

Kahikatea

Description

Kahikatea is a coniferous tree that can grow up to 60 metres tall. It has a slender trunk and branches, and its bark is smooth and greyish-white. Kahikatea has needle-like leaves that are flattened and arranged in a spiral pattern on the branch.

Habitat

Kahikatea is native to New Zealand and is commonly found in lowland swamps and floodplains throughout the North and South Islands.

Cultural Importance

Kahikatea was an essential resource for Māori, who used the tree's bark for weaving and wood for carving and building waka (canoes). The tree was also valued for its spiritual significance and was believed to connect the earthly and spiritual realms.

Ecological Role

Kahikatea is an important species for wetland ecosystems, providing habitat and food for birds and insects. The tree also helps to stabilise soil and prevent erosion in swampy areas.

Associated birds

Fantail: Kahikatea 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 could be attracted to Kahikatea trees for their potential as nesting sites. The dense canopy and tall trunks of Kahikatea trees offer suitable locations for these cuckoos to lay their eggs.

Kererū: Kahikatea trees are attracted to Kererū due to their fruit. Kererū are known to feed on various native fruits, and Kahikatea trees can provide a consistent food source, helping with seed dispersal.

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

New Zealand Falcon: Kahikatea forests are attracted to Kārearea due to the presence of prey. These raptors hunt a range of small birds and mammals, and the forest environment, with its diverse birdlife, provides ample hunting opportunities.

Saddleback: Kahikatea trees are attracted to Kārearea due to their potential as a habitat. Saddlebacks are known to nest in tree cavities, and the mature Kahikatea trees, with their large trunks, offer suitable nesting sites.

Rifleman: These tiny birds are drawn to Kahikatea trees for their small insects and spiders that inhabit the tree's bark and foliage. Rifleman birds have a high metabolic rate and frequently feed on these tiny prey.

Conservation status

Kahikatea is not currently classified as a threatened species.

Interesting Facts

  • Kahikatea is the tallest native tree species in New Zealand.
  • The tree's fruit is a small, blue-green berry eaten by birds.
  • Kahikatea is sometimes called the "white pine" due to the colour of its bark.

Conservation Tips

While Kahikatea is not currently threatened, protecting wetland habitats where the tree grows is important. Wetlands are vulnerable to drainage and development, so supporting conservation efforts to protect these areas is crucial.