Vitex lucens



Pūriri is a large evergreen tree that can grow up to 20 metres tall. It has a broad, spreading crown with glossy, dark green leaves that are leathery and thick. The bark is thick and corky, with deep ridges and furrows. The tree produces clusters of small, white or cream-coloured flowers that attract birds and insects, followed by red, purple, or black fruit.


Pūriri is native to the North Island and the top of the South Island of New Zealand. It grows in various habitats, including lowland and coastal forests, and can tolerate a range of soil types.

Cultural Importance

Pūriri is an essential tree to Māori, who use it for various purposes. The wood is durable and rugged, making it useful for carving, furniture, and buildings. The tree also has cultural significance and is associated with healing and protection.

Ecological Role

Pūriri is an important food source for native birds, including tui and kereru, who feed on nectar and fruit. The tree also provides a habitat for various native insects and other animals.

Associated Birds

Morepork: The Morepork, also known as the Ruru, is a small to medium-sized owl species. They are nocturnal and can be heard calling from Pūriri trees during the night. Moreporks play a significant cultural and spiritual role in Māori mythology.

New Zealand Kingfisher: The New Zealand Kingfisher is a small bird with vibrant blue and orange plumage. They can be seen perched on branches near water bodies in Pūriri forests, hunting for small fish, insects, and crustaceans.

Pīpipi: The Pīpipi, also known as the Grey Warbler, is a small insectivorous bird known for its melodious song. They are often found in the canopy of Pūriri trees, foraging for insects among the foliage.

North Island Robin: The North Island Robin is a small passerine bird with a predominantly dark grey or black plumage, a white patch on the forehead, and underparts. They are often found in Pūriri forests, foraging for insects and spiders among the tree's foliage.

Whitehead: The Whitehead is a small bird with a compact and robust body. It has a round head, a short beak, and a distinctive white head and throat, contrasting with the dark grey-black coloration of its upper parts. Whiteheads can be found in Pūriri trees, foraging for insects and spiders.

Rifleman: The Rifleman is one of the smallest bird species in New Zealand. It has a vibrant green plumage, which helps it blend into the forest environment. Rifleman are agile and can be seen hopping along the branches of Pūriri trees in search of insects and spiders.

Conservation status

Pūriri is not currently considered threatened, but like many New Zealand native trees, it is vulnerable to habitat loss and damage from introduced pests.

Interesting Facts

  • The tree produces a red dye that Māori use for tattooing and dyeing.
  • The wood of the Pūriri tree is resistant to rot, making it useful for fence posts and other outdoor construction projects.

Conservation Tips

To help conserve Pūriri and other native New Zealand trees, it is essential to support conservation efforts and avoid introducing pests and diseases that can harm them. If you are planting trees in your yard, consider planting native species like Puriri, which can provide important habitats for native wildlife.