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Following flowering seed pods are produced. These 4 winged pods house a single seed in specially constructed compartments. Each pod may have up to 8 seeds. When mature seeds may be gathered and sown quickly to ensure they germinate.
Pests and diseases include Kowhai moth whose larvae eat leaves and seeds. Scale insects may invade Kowhai and they are easily controlled by spraying with all seasons spraying oil.
The Kowhai is best known NZ Native flowering tree and one of most beautiful. As a small tree it is excellent in many small gardens where light foliage cover is required and a burst of colour in spring when it smothers itself with blooms.
The botanical/Latin name has following meanings. Sophora is an Arabian name for a tree with pea shaped flowers and tetraptera means 4 winged seed. Previously it was included in genus Edwardia. Kowhai is Maori name and means yellow.
Maori also recognised Kowhai as an important plant. Its medicinal properties were explored by Maori and poultices were made from bark and applied to wounds and tumours. An infusion of barks (a tea) from Kowhai and manuka was used to treat internal pain, bruises and broken limbs. Wood ash from Kowhai was used to treat ringworm.
The Maori are said to have regulated planting of potatoes by flowering time of Kowhai.
The wood of Kowhai is valuable as is it is very durable. Logs have been used straight from bush and used in construction without any special treatment.
As an individual tree Kowhai is a superb garden plant. It is small enough for even smallest of gardens but it is large enough to make an impact. As a garden tree there is none better in spring.
In larger landscape Kowhai makes a big success. Mass plantings of Kowhai make a tremendous impact on scenery. This can best be seen in some of naturally occurring stands in Rangitiki area of North Island.
Plantings of Kowhai should be encouraged throughout NZ and in other places around world to ensure this icon of New Zealand plants is able to show us its best each spring.
Alan Jolliffe is a garden writer and lecturer. I am available to write special articles for you about Gardening and about New Zealand. I am a professional horticulturist, recreation manager,tourism advisor, teacher and local government manager. Contact email@example.com