Pohutukawa - Ancient Christmas Tree

height - 40 feet
diameter - 5 feet

The New Zealand Pohutukawa tree is truly a remarkable living creature. As a coastal dwelling tree it has an excellent salt tolerance and will grow on shear rock outcrops.

The Pohutukawa is closely related to the Olive and looks very similar, both in leaf and especially its gnarly structure. It is extremely unusual to find a straight millable stem and indeed was used extensively by the pioneering sailors to fashion ship members, with thousands of elbows being harvested for their naturally curved shapes.

Nowadays the beautiful crimson flowers herald the beginnings of Christmas and the Summer Holidays and have become a environmental symbol in our nation. Consequently, the obtaining of woodturning materials is almost impossible. However the occasional tree collapses of old age or is devastated in a storm and suitable materials are harvested.

The timber is always swirly grained and very dense. Colour ranges from soft pinks through to rich reds with black streaks. The most attractive grain appears when spalting [yellow decay] takes place and exhibition pieces often feature this defect. Pohutukawa is available in round blocks and platter material. There are invariably bark inclusions and other interesting features which make this a special timber.