Alectryon excelsus, commonly known as Tītoki, is a shiny-leaved tree found in coastal and lowland forests throughout most of the North Island and from Banks Peninsula to central Westland in the South Island. Tītoki is likely to grow anywhere from lowland forest areas and exposed coastal area sites along with sandy plains. In sandy plains, Alectryon excelsus is often paired with Beilschmiedia tawa. Tītoki gravitate towards fertile, well-drained soils along riverbanks and associated terraces. Semi-shade to full sun.
It has a twisting trunk with smooth dark bark, spreading branches. As with many natives, it has a juvenile form where its leaves have strong marginal teeth whereas adult leaflets do not. Alectryon excelsus produces small purple flowers in spring and the seeds take up to a year to mature. The colourful seed is initially contained in a hairy woody capsule that splits revealing bright red and black fruit. The fruit attracts birds but does not have an appealing taste to people. There is limited information about their toxicity, but Tītoki belongs to the same family as many other poisonous plants.
Makes an excellent sade, specimen or street tree where the soil is well-drained.
Tītoki were commonly planted by Māori for various uses, refer to Landcare Research’s listing for more information.