Attractive tree found lowland forest North Cape to Banks Peninsula.
Alectryon is a small genus of 24 species found in and around the Pacific area from Hawaii to New Zealand. During a recent visit to Fiji it was easy to recognise the species of Titoki growing there. The two New Zealand species are both endemic.
Titoki is a handsome small tree growing up to 10 m tall. It is found throughout the North Island in the east of South Island to Banks Peninsula and Westland on the west coast. It can be found growing from the coast to lowland forest often around fertile river flats. Although not common along our coastline, there are still a few large specimens in remnant bush pockets growing amongst the other broadleafs.
Titoki being a reasonably small tree is well suited to street planting which it is often used for. When grown as an isolated specimen it develops a straight trunk with a round heat of foliage. The flowers are very small with male and female on different trees. The fruit is the main feature of the tree taking about a year to ripen. When ripe the distinctive capsule splits to reveal a jet black shiny seed enclosed by a bright red fleshy aril almost like a strawberry, not surprisingly they are targeted by a number of birds particularly tui. The fruits of the Titoki were eaten by Maori who also made an oil out of the crushed seeds. Titoki is not difficult to establish but prefers being in open situation in good deep soil. It is drought tolerant once established.
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