Pūriri

Vitex Lucens

Evergreen, endemic to New Zealand.

Pūriri are important trees because they fruit and flower year-round, providing a source of food for native birds. They are unique to New Zealand, and confined to the northern part of the North Island. They do not tolerate cold or high altitudes.

Māori regarded pūriri as sacred trees, and people were often buried near old trees. Pūriri bark was used as a source of a yellow dye.

Māori stories tell of the constant battle the tree has with caterpillars of the pūriri moth, which bore holes in the trunk. Cavities in the trees are also used as nests by kākā, kākāriki and stitchbirds.

Pūriri grow up to 20m. The wood is remarkably close-grained, strong and durable. It was used to make house piles, fence posts, railway sleepers and bridges, and is still much favoured by wood turners.

Find the Puriri

29-37 Karangahape Rd, Grafton, Auckland 1010, New Zealand