About NZ Totara

The tōtara is a medium to large tree, which grows slowly to around 20 to 25 m, exceptionally to 35 m; it is noted for its longevity and the great girth of its trunk. The bark peels off in papery flakes, with a purplish to golden brown hue. The sharp, dull-green, needle-like leaves are stiff and leathery, 2 cm long. This plant produces highly modified cones with two to four fused, fleshy, berry-like, juicy scales, bright red when mature. The cone contains one or two rounded seeds at the apex of the scales.

The largest known living tōtara, the Pouakani Tree, near Pureora in the central North Island, is over 35 m tall and nearly 4 m in trunk diameter at breast height. Bushmen discovered it in 1950.  Whirinaki Forest, on deep recent volcanic soils, has groves of very tall tōtara (over 40 m in height).

Tōtara is often found regenerating on farmland, as it is not eaten by livestock.