Evergreen, endemic to New Zealand.
The gullies to the north of Symonds Street Cemetery were known as significant karaka grove by Māori.
Karaka trees are found throughout the North Island, and around the coastal fringe of the northern part of the South Island. They provide a leafy canopy and can grow to a height of 15m.
Karaka were one of the few trees that were cultivated by Māori. The kernels of the fruit were an important food source – but they had to be carefully prepared by soaking in running water, and days of cooking, to remove poison. The orange fruit are a food for kererū New Zealand pigeons.
In the Chatham Islands, the famous dendroglyphs (carvings in living trees) are in the soft bark of karaka. The trees are very important to Moriori people.