This is one of the most handsome New Zealand hardwood trees and is representative of a typical semitropical and tropical family and genus. Some of the mahoganies belong to the family. It occurs in coastal and lowland forest from near the North Cape to about Banks Peninsula on the east coast of the South Island. Its most typical habitats are the coastal forests of the North Island in which it often occurs in small pure stands. Kohekohe is a medium-sized tree usually 30–40 ft in height, with a trunk 1–3 ft in diameter. Where space allows, it has a large crown of spreading branches. The leaves are pinnate, up to 18 in. long, and consist of three to four pairs of ovate leaves. A feature of the tree is the panicles of sweet-scented, waxy white flowers which grow out from the trunk and larger branches. This is one of the few New Zealand trees which flower from the stems in such a manner: cauliflore, as it is called, is more typical of trees growing in the tropics. The flowers develop into an ovoid capsule about 1 in. long.
The wood is light and straight-grained, and pale red in colour when seasoned. It is occasionally used for cabinetmaking, but supplies of timber are irregular and limited.
by Alec Lindsay Poole, M.SC., B.FOR.SC., F.R.S.N.Z., Director-General of Forests, Wellington.