This dragon is a close Kauri neighbour


NEINEI – Dracophyllum latifolium

Dragon Tree

Family – Epacridaceae (grass plants)

One of the few trees that thrives in the immediate neighbourhood of kauri, neinei has the characteristics of a Dr Zeus plant, with a spindly trunk and branches tipped by a sprouting cluster of narrow, tousled leaves. While it grows throughout northern New Zealand as far south as Taranaki, and occasionally in the northern South Island, its preference for open forest environments makes it well suited to kauri ecosystems.

It grows up to 10 metres tall, in a spindly fashion, and the long, narrow leaves at the head of each cluster are often splashed with red. It has tiny, dark red flowers and curiously patterned bark that appears to be a cross-hatching of cuts of varying depths.

The trunks with their curious twists and shapes were often used by Maori for toko waananga, the staff of authority carried by tohunga when teaching students