|Kaka beak leaves and flowers|
Nationally Critical (NZ TCS)
|Clianthus puniceus |
(G.Don) Sol. ex Lindl.
Clianthus puniceus, commonly known as Kaka beak (Kōwhai Ngutu-kākā in Māori), is a woody legume shrub native to New Zealand's North Island. It is one of two species of Clianthus (Kaka beak), both of which have striking clusters of red flowers which resemble the beak of the Kākā, a New Zealand parrot. The plant is also known as Parrot's Beak, Parrot's Bill and Lobster Claw. There is also a variety with white to creamy coloured flowers.
The species is critically endangered in the wild, known only on Moturemu Island in the Kaipara Harbour. It was previously widely grown as a garden plant, but has generally been replaced by the more robust Clianthus maximus.
Kaka beak grows to around two metres high, with spreading branches producing leaf stalks up to 15 cm long bearing several pairs of small leaflets. They usually flower from spring through to early summer, but can flower twice a year or even year round.
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