37 / Kōwhai

genus Sophora

The kōwhai is one of the best-known native trees in New Zealand. It grows up to 25m high, and is found in a range of habitats throughout the country. Noted for its spectacular mass of pendant golden-yellow flowers that appear in spring, the kōwhai is popular with a wide range of native birds, including the tūī (see icon 43), bellbird, kākā and kererū (see icon 45). The kōwhai  has also been suggested as an unofficial national flower; in 1918 a conference of the Victoria League in Christchurch discussed the matter, but decided that the fernleaf was better known overseas and should therefore be retained as our preferred emblem.

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