Macropiper excelsum (kawakawa, peppertree)
Macropiper excelsum, commonly known as kawakawa, is found in abundance in forest and other shady places throughout the North Island and as far South as Banks Peninsula. It forms a densely branched shrub of about 2m. The heart shaped leaves have prominent veining and are a medium to dark green (the colour is lighter in more open situations). Male and female flowers are carried on separate spikes, often on separate plants. They are very tiny and tightly packed on upright spikes, and on the female, become an attractive orange ‘candle’ of berries adding to the trees ornamental appearance. Kawakawa is an excellent choice for shady areas, where it looks best. However the fact that its leaves are nearly always attacked by a caterpillar may be off putting to some. Frost Tender. Propagation by seeds or cuttings.