Karaka is a medium-sized species that can grow up to 20 metres tall. The tree has large, dark, glossy leaves growing up to 25cm long. The tree produces orange-yellow fruit that contains a single seed.
Karaka is often found in lowland coastal areas of New Zealand’s North Island and towards the top of the South Island.
Karaka has significant cultural importance to Māori, who have traditionally used the tree for various purposes. The fruit was an important food source, and the wood was used for carving and making tools.
Karaka is vital to New Zealand's forest ecosystems, providing habitat and food for various bird and insect species. The fruit is significant to our native birds.
Tui: Tui are known to feed on the nectar of Karaka flowers, attracted by their bright orange-red colour.
Silvereye: These small birds might feed on insects attracted to Karaka trees or occasionally nibble on the tree's fruits.
Whitehead: These insectivorous birds might forage on Karaka trees for insects.
North Island Robin (Toutouwai): Robins could search for insects and spiders on Karaka tree trunks and leaves.
Tomtit: Tomtits explore Karaka trees for insects and spiders.
Kererū (New Zealand Pigeon): Kererū are known to feed on the fruits of Karaka trees, aiding in seed dispersal.
Grey Warbler (Riroriro): These small birds, known for their melodious songs, might find insects and spiders among the foliage of Karaka trees.
Bellbird (Korimako): Bellbirds might visit Karaka trees for nectar, attracted by their flowers.
Shining Cuckoo: These migratory cuckoos might visit Karaka trees during their breeding season to lay their eggs.
Karaka is not considered to be a threatened species.
Karaka is a resilient species that are not currently threatened. However, it is essential to be mindful of the impacts of land use change and development on the ecosystems where it grows. Sustainable land management practices, such as erosion control and reforestation, can help to protect and restore karaka habitats. Additionally, care should be taken to avoid overharvesting the fruit and ensure it is adequately prepared before consumption.