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Products > Corynocarpus laevigatus
 
Corynocarpus laevigatus - New Zealand Laurel
   

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Corynocarpaceae
Origin: New Zealand (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Corynocarpus laevigata]
Height: 25-40 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Light Shade/Part Sun
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Corynocarpus laevigatus (New Zealand Laurel) - A slow growing narrow upright evergreen tree reaching 25 to 40 feet tall and is densely covered with attractive oblong dark glossy green foliage. On mature plants small greenish cream flowers appear in spring and are followed by large decorative orange berries. Plant in part sun and water regularly to occasionally - established plants require only infrequent irrigation and are surprisingly drought tolerant. It is hardy to 20-25 F This makes a good container plant, for screening in shaded locations or under eaves. It has a good tolerance of coastal conditions and with its dense growth can be used as a hedge to provide protection to other less seashore tolerant plants. With its large leathery leaves it looks best when trimmed and not sheared. Though not often seen in cultivation in California with fruit, care should be used as the seed is quite poisonous. This plant is native to coastal and lowland forests throughout the North Island of New Zealand and coastal areas on the upper third of the South Island as well as on the Kermadec and Chatham Islands. The Maori people call this plant Karaka (on the Chatham Islands it was called kopi) and historically it was a very important cultivated plant for shelter and for a food source, though the berries are poisonous the seed could be rendered edible through a washing and a cooking process. The Maori folklore recount stories of bringing this plant to New Zealand, but since the plant is not found elsewhere, this is now considered an unfounded myth and the plant is thought to have originated in New Zealand. The name Corynocarpus comes from the Greek words 'koryne' meaning "a club" and 'karpos' meaning "fruit" in reference to the shape of its fruit. The specific epithet is Latin for "smooth" in reference to the smooth glossy leaves. These leaves have interesting stipules in the leaf axils that are fused to form a single dark sheath, a characteristic that is a distinctive feature for this tree. According to the International Plant Names Index the spelling of the specific epithet as "laevigata" that was authored by John Reinhold Forster and his son Johann Georg Adam Forster in 1775 preceded by one year the published name as "laevigatus" but this later name is listed as current in The Plant List, the collaborative effort between The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Missouri Botanic Garden. The Fosters were Germans of Scottish descent who accompanied James Cook on his second Pacific voyage and published an account of the physical geography, natural history and ethnic philosophy that they had observed en route. The specific name for the Kentia Palm, Howea forsteriana, honors both father and son. We also grow the variegated form of this plant, Corynocarpus laevigatus 'Variegatus'  This description is based on research and observations of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in our nursery garden and in other gardens that we visit. We also incorporate comments received and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have any additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Corynocarpus laevigatus.
 
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