Macropiper excelsum



Kawakawa, also known as Macropiper excelsum, is a small evergreen tree or shrub native to New Zealand. It typically grows up to 5-10 meters in height. The leaves are heart-shaped, glossy, and have distinct holes or perforations caused by insect feeding.


Kawakawa is found in various habitats throughout New Zealand, including forests, coastal areas, and wetlands. It prefers moist and shaded environments.

Cultural Importance

Kawakawa has significant cultural importance to Māori. The leaves were traditionally used for medicinal purposes and in ceremonial practices. The plant is also associated with spiritual protection.

Ecological Role

Kawakawa provides habitat and food for native birds and insects. Its leaves are an important food source for the caterpillars of the Kawakawa looper moth. The plant also contributes to the biodiversity and aesthetics of native ecosystems.

Associated Birds

Pipit: Often found foraging for insects near Kawakawa trees.

Spotless Crake: Secretive birds that can occasionally be found near Kawakawa, foraging in the undergrowth.

Fernbird: Inhabit the undergrowth of forests with Kawakawa, feeding on insects and invertebrates.

Rifleman: Tiny green-plumaged birds that might navigate Kawakawa branches in search of insects.

Kākāpō: Although typically ground-dwelling, Kākāpō influence the ecosystem dynamics around Kawakawa trees.

Kiwi: While primarily ground-dwellers, Kiwis play crucial roles in forest ecosystems and could indirectly influence Kawakawa habitats.

Conservation Status

Kawakawa is not currently listed as a threatened species. However, local populations can be affected by habitat loss and browsing by introduced pests.

Interesting Facts

  • Kawakawa leaves have a distinct spicy aroma when crushed and are often used in herbal teas and remedies.
  • The plant produces small green fruits that are edible for birds.

Conservation Tips

To support the conservation of Kawakawa and other native plants, you can avoid removing mature specimens unless necessary, participate in local habitat restoration projects, and promote the use of native plants in landscaping.