Pseudopanax arboreus is also known as Five-finger or Whauwhaupaku. It is a small, bushy tree with glossy green leathery toothed leaves arranged in fans of 5 (up to 7) leaflets that radiate from a central stalk, hence the common English name. There are more than 12 species of Pseudopanax in New Zealand all of which are endemic. P. arboreus is widespread throughout New Zealand, growing in clusters from coastal to montane regions. It likes reasonably well-drained and rich soil. It is tolerant of many different positions and is a frequent component of secondary forest and forest margins. Tolerant of moderate frosts and coastal conditions but should be sheltered from strong winds. Subject to breakage and shallow-rooted it does best under a shady canopy, avoiding boggy soil. Five-finger is a good coloniser of clay banks, especially on cleared exposed sites with plenty of sun.
New Zealand Beekeepers Magazine rates Pseudopanax arboreus as a star performer for food for bees. The trees provide abundant pollen and copious, rich nectar very early in the season when few other species are in flower (from June to August). Plant in good numbers clustered together to amplify the availability of flowers for bee feed. Bees love the small scented green flowers that are followed by bunches of dark purple fruits enjoyed by birds from August to February. Flower buds can be easily mistaken for ripe fruit whereas clusters of fruit are actually ripe one year after flowering. See New Zealand Beekeepers’ article here for more information about Five-finger as food for bees.
Other native trees that provide excellent food for honey bees and our own native bees (Leioproctus, Lasioglossum, and Hylaeus genera), are Fuchsia excorticata, Cordyline australis, Schefflera digitata, Kunzea spp., and Pittosporum tenuifolium.