Day seven of my self imposed discipline of getting a photograph of a New Zealand tree each day. This began in response to the challenge for this week, trees. I have also had the added interest of reading rather more about these trees than I have for many many years. This morning's run took me through Fowlds Park, and not long into the park, and right beside the path I was on (visible behind the tree) was this splendid Rimu.
Rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) is a very tall, forest canopy tree which can grow to a height of 50 metres. There were reports of trees more than 60 m tall in the central North Island before logging of the ancient forests took place. The biggest trees could have a diameter at chest height of more than 2 m. Rimu matures after 400 years, and can live for up to 1000 years. Few really old trees remain, due to extensive logging. Along with Kauri and Totara, Rimu was highly valued for building; even more so for furniture.
Rimu has a wide distribution throughout New Zealand in both lowland and montane forest. The largest number are found on the West Coast of the South Island; only a few Rimu dominant forests remain in the North Island. Most surviving large trees are between 20 to 35 m tall. As in this case, Rimu is an attractive pyramid shape.The needle-like foliage can vary from bronze to green when young but always green in the adult form.
Although early settlers called it the Red Pine, it is not a pine; it is a podocarp like kahikatea and totara.
It is a dioecious conifer; there are separate male and female plants that as juvenile plants are indistinguishable. The female plant bears the flowers and fruit; rimu only flowers and fruits once every five to seven years and the fruits take a year or more to mature being ripe between February and May (our autumn). Tui, bellbirds, kereru and a number of introduced birds eat the berries, as do kakapo, whose breeding cycle has been linked to the rimu cone production cycle.
This tree had lots of fruit and cones, which I was unable to get a clear shot of due to the strong gusty wind this morning. I am so pleased to see that this well established park has at least one adult, yet not fully mature, Rimu.