Coprosma robusta



Karamu is a shrub or small tree native to New Zealand. It can grow up to 8 meters in height with a spread of 2-3 meters. The leaves are dark green and glossy, and the plant produces small, round berries that turn from green to red when ripe.


Karamu is found throughout New Zealand in a variety of habitats, including forests, shrublands, wetlands, and coastal areas. It is adaptable and can grow in a wide range of soil conditions.

Cultural Importance

In Māori culture, Karamu has several traditional uses. The berries are edible and were used for food, while the wood was used to make tools and weapons. The plant also has medicinal properties and was used to treat various ailments.

Ecological Role

Karamu provides an important food source for native birds, such as tui and bellbirds, which feed on berries. The plant also contributes to habitat diversity and helps stabilise soils in erosion-prone areas.

Associated Birds

Bellbird: The Bellbird, or Korimako, is a medium-sized songbird with a melodious and bell-like call. They are attracted to the nectar-rich flowers of Karamu trees and also consume berries and insects.

Silvereye: The Silvereye, or Piwaiwaka, is a small passerine bird that frequents Karamu trees. They feed on the berries and insects found in the tree's foliage, contributing to the pollination of Karamu flowers.

Fantail: The Fantail, or Pīwakawaka, is an agile bird known for its distinctive fan-shaped tail and acrobatic flight. They can often be spotted in Karamu trees, where they hunt insects by fluttering and flicking their tail.

Grey Warbler: The Grey Warbler, or Riroriro, is a tiny bird with a melodious song. They are commonly found in Karamu forests, foraging for insects among the tree's foliage and building their delicate nests on its branches.

Tui: Tui birds are attracted to Karamu trees for their nectar-rich flowers. They have a beautiful plumage and a unique song, often engaging in impressive aerial displays while feeding on the Karamu tree's nectar.

Conservation Status

Karamu is not currently listed as a threatened species. However, like other native plants in New Zealand, it can face threats from habitat loss, invasive species, and other factors.

Interesting Facts

  • Karamu berries are rich in vitamin C and were traditionally used by Māori to prevent scurvy.
  • The plant has a dioecious nature, which means there are separate male and female plants. Both are required for berry production.

Conservation Tips

To support the conservation of Karamu and other native plants, you can help by planting native species in your garden, avoiding the spread of invasive species, and participating in local habitat restoration projects.