Rhopalostylis sapida (nikau)
Rhopalostylis sapida, commonly known as nikau, is a palm type plant found in lowland forests throughout the North Island and in the South Island to Banks Peninsula in the east and Greymouth in the west. It is very slow growing but can eventually reach a height of 10m or more in the wild. The fronds emerge from bulbous sheaths atop a single trunk that is ringed with the scars of fallen leaves. Flowering doesn’t commence until a tree is about 30 years old. At this time large spiky inflorescences containing tiny pinkish purple flowers hang down from below the base of the leaves. The flowers are followed by bright red fruits that take a year to ripen. Nikau needs a shady sheltered site, preferably among other trees in a deep moist soil, and can tolerate only the lightest frosts. Its exotic appearance makes it an excellent choice for a tropical planting or in a native grove. It looks particularly good when planted in groups. Propagation by seed.