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Kōhūhū (Pittosporum tenuifolium)


Kōhūhū (Pittosporum tenuifolium)

By Rudolph89 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Kōhūhū tree, also known as Tawhiwhi, is a midsized evergreen tree that is native to New Zealand.  The Kōhūhū tree can reach a height of up to 30 feet but can also be pruned to be a large hedge.  Depending on the variety, this hardy evergreen can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11 and can grow up to 3 feet a year. The tree’s slim trunk is grey-black, and the leaves are dark green and slender. Kōhūhū generally flowers in early summer and produce dark red-purplish flowers. The heady honey scent of the nectar filled flowers can only be detected at night and are a favorite of moths and other night insects. The flowers develop into small, round, black fruit that hardens and splits into 3 sections with protruding seeds. 

By Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Kōhūhū prefers full sun and well-draining slightly sandy soil. It can also tolerate poor soil and mild coastal conditions but needs a humid climate to maintain its hardiness (damp conditions can cause leaf drop). Kōhūhū requires little maintenance but may benefit from a light pruning as needed. Leaf spot and powdery mildew are the only two common diseases for Kōhūhū but can be deterred if the right conditions are met. Pests do not seem to be a problem for Kōhūhū.  It is extremely difficult to grow from seed, so established cuttings or potted varieties are recommended.

As a focal specimen, Kōhūhū would make a stunning addition to any Japanese or Mediterranean style garden.

*There are two compact varieties of Kōhūhū that grow well in containers: Tom Thumb (4 feet length and 30 inch spread) and Golf Ball (4 feet height/spread).

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