Kunzea Ericoides (White tea tree or Kanuka)

Endemic to New Zealand, this is a member of the myrtle family slightly reminiscent of Leptospermum. Please contact us for stock availability and sizes.

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Hardiness level Red

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This spreading shrub or tree is all backwards: the bark is soft and the leaves are hard. The leaves stay on in winter and the bark falls off. It generally forms a mid-sized shrub with an open sort of rounded canopy, but it can also become quite an imposing tall tree reaching around 18 metres.

Endemic to New Zealand, this is a member of the myrtle family and slightly reminiscent of Leptospermum, with which it was once lumped-in with but now very deservedly has a genus all of its own. The leaves are small and lance-shaped and like many plants from this neighbourhood give the overall silhouette a sort of fuzzy outline. When it flowers, they are small, but pretty and plentiful and have elaborately large stamens like over-mascara-d lashes. These are borne on previous year’s growth in summer, though flowering times in cultivation can sometimes be irregular.

Were you to be growing this in New Zealand you might be treated to a flock of Kākāriki parakeets stopping by to chew on its bark and leaves, with which they mix with their own preening oils to condition their plumage and rid themselves of parasites. If you’re growing one in the UK and this happens, alert us immediately because that’d be odd.

A plant for mild gardens, it is definitely best grown in full sun and will manage just fine in neutral or acid soil of decent quality but is said to like a sandy, loamy sort of a footing. It will really resent root disturbance so do plant it where you intend for it to stay.


N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well-watered when first planted.


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