(Forst. & Forst. f.) L. f.
|Natural range of Fuchsia excorticata|
Fuchsia excorticata, commonly known as tree fuchsia, New Zealand fuchsia and by its Māori name kōtukutuku, is a New Zealand native tree belonging to the family Onagraceae. It is commonly found throughout New Zealand and as far south as the Auckland Islands. It grows from sea level up to about 1,000 m (3,300 ft), particularly alongside creeks and rivers. It is easily recognised in its native environment by the characteristic appearance of its bark, which peels spontaneously, hanging in red papery strips to show a pale bark underneath. Its scientific name, excorticata, reflects this distinctive property.
F. excorticata is the largest member of the genus Fuchsia, growing to a height of 15 m (50 ft). It is unusual among New Zealand trees in being deciduous in the southern parts of its range. The introduction of the common brushtail possum to New Zealand precipitated a serious decline in this species, particularly where large concentrations of the possum are present. F. excorticata appears to be one of the possum's preferred food sources, and they will browse individual trees to the point of defoliation after which the trees will die. The small dark purple berry is sweet and juicy. It was favoured by Māori who, unusually, gave the fruit its own name of kōnini; it was also eaten by European settlers in jams and puddings.
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