Pseudopanax lessonii ‘Moa’s Toes’

Unusual plants with glossy green three-lobbed leaves. Please contact us for stock availability and sizes.

Hardiness traffic light amber

Hardiness level Amber

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If you ask me, this is the epitome of contemporary exoticism. I say this with the additional endorsement of Clare Coulson who was eager to include my thoughts on this exciting plant in a recent article for The Financial Times supplement, How To Spend It. So it’s a fact now - it’s super cool. I’ve been obsessed with this specimen since I first saw it on a trip to New Zealand, The North Island and was determined to bring it to our nursery. Rare and unusual to our shores, this is the plant for the discerning horticultural collector of the stylishly tropical and jungly. Quirky, a bit gangly and even to some eyes a little bizarre.

Evergreen with an upright form, the leaves are dark green and suffused with red, with a shiny veneer and veins of cocoa. They stand out even on gloomy days (and especially after rain). Large, glossy and leathery with deeply-divided lobes they have an almost primaeval quality, resembling the footprint of New Zealand’s famously out-sized, famously extinct 3m flightless bird, the Moa. Hence the name ‘Moas Toes’.

A slow mover, it grows to around 2m in height with a spread of 2-3m.

Good in beds and borders as a year-round conversation point in a mixed planting design. We like to use it in small groups to introduce some height and unconventional texture to a composition of shrubs and other small trees. 

Best planted in fertile, well-drained soil in sun or dappled shade. In mild, urban gardens it will handle a winter with stoicism. It is said to be drought tolerant when established, and a nice choice for mild coastal areas. In less clement parts of the country it can be planted into a large pot and pulled somewhere frost-free and bright as insurance against a hard winter.

(I’d been diving in the surrounding sea of the The Three Kings group of Islands, investigating the wreck of the Elingamite) An excellent location to go diving

The Three Kings group are mainly inhospitable islands no beaches.


 (I’d been diving in the surrounding sea of the The Three Kings group of Islands, investigating the wreck of the Elingamite which foundered there on 9 November 1902.)

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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A plant lovers dream…
It is an absolutely wonderful treasure trove for any plant lover and we will be back (frequently!) The plants are all in superb condition, with an enormous variety to choose from. The staff are very professional and knowledgable, but also friendly and helpful.