Kōwhai

Sophora microphylla

Sophora microphylla, commonly called the Small-leaved Kōwhai is a small tree native to New Zealand where their natural habitat is besides streams and at the forest edge. It is one of eight species of kōwhai, but the best known. Outside of New Zealand they are grown as ornamental trees where there is a mild maritime climate just like here in Thanet. Their distinctive seed pods usually carry six seeds.

They flower from July to November (spring) and are pollinated by native birds that sip their nectar like Tui’s and Bellbirds.

Funky Facts File: They are regarded as New Zealand’s, unofficial, national flower. In Maori language kōwhai also means yellow as it is the colour of the tree’s flowers. ALL parts of the tree, and particularly the seeds, are poisonous to humans!

Kowhai Trees in a New Zealand Garden – Both images © Jean Beolens