Fuchsia excorticata is the largest fuchsia in the world. It is commonly found throughout New Zealand. It grows from sea level up to about 1,000 m, particularly alongside creeks and rivers. It is easily recognised in its native environment by the characteristic appearance of its bark, which peels spontaneously, hanging in red papery strips to show a pale bark underneath.
Fuchsia excorticata is the largest member of the genus Fuchsia. It is unusual among New Zealand trees in being deciduous in the southern parts of its range, including Canterbury. Leaves are smooth with serrated margins. Leaf colour can vary the upper side generally being dark green and the underside being paler and more silver or pink in colour. The small dark purple berry is sweet and juicy. It was favoured by Māori who, unusually, gave the fruit its own name of kōnini; it was also eaten by European settlers in jams and puddings. For more uses, see Landcare Research’s page on Fuchsia exorticata.
Kōtukutuku is also a favoured food for bees. Other native trees that provide excellent food for honey bees and our own native bees (Leioproctus, Lasioglossum, and Hylaeus genera), are Psuedopanax arboreus, Cordyline australis, Schefflera digitata, Kunzea spp., and Pittosporum tenuifolium. Tree fuchsia can grow in riparian soil and can be utilized as a predecessor species for areas where conditions and soils are not the best. It likes moist soil with a canopy overhead for shade. Cinnamon-coloured peeling bark. Small red deciduous flower, dark glossy leaves. Extremely rost tender when young. Edible black berries, birds