Plant Descriptions

Our  native plants have been organically grown naturally from bird brought seed unless organically grown from a cutting. Plants are naturally adapted to Dunedin conditions and are not cultivars or hybrids.


Lemonwood (pittosporum eugenioides)  (Tarata):  NZ NATIVE

A native shrub/ tree that can grow up to 12 metres in height.  Frost, wind and shade tolerant but dislikes wet ground. An erect bushy attractive plant which grows rapidly into a handsome tree.  Wavy edged leaves which have a beautiful lemony scent when crushed. Pale yellow flowers from mid-spring to early summer and fruit capsules in autumn

Maori used the gum collected from the bark to freshen the breath and used the macerated leaves soaked in water as a healant for wounds and sores, while the fragrant flowers mixed with oil were used as a body lotion.



Wineberry  (Aristotelia serrata) (makomako): NZ NATIVE

Fastgrowing native tree/shrub that produces black berries when mature which native birds love. Grows to 10 metres   Has many small flowers; white at first that change to pink then red. Flowers from spring to early summer. The berries can be eaten raw and a jelly can be made from them

Maori  used the leaves, steeped in  water,  to  ease burns and rheumatism,  while  the bark,  boiled in  water, was  used in  baths for arthritis and rheumatism .  Soaked in cold water, the bark was also used to ease inflamed eyes.


Hebe (koromiko) deep purple flowers, “Wiri Prince” variant: NZ NATIVE

This plant will grow to two metres plus, with a profusion of superb dark purple flowers summer to late autumn. (The advertised shrub not flowering yet; flower pic from the parent of the cutting)
Honeybees and bumblebees love the flowers

Maori used hebe as therapy against dysentery and diarhoea, and a small portion of one leaf was used to arouse keen hunger. Bruised leaves were applied as a poultice on boils, abscesses and ulcers, and weaker infusion of the leaves was used as a tonic.


Coprosma grandifolia, (kanono, manono papauma or raurekau): NZ NATIVE

Kanono is a native forest shrub and has the largest leaves of any New Zealand coprosma. It is found naturally in wet and shaded forest areas where it can grow to 6 metres high. It’s leaves often have a mottled appearance.

As a tree, it has a slender trunk which bear drupes of orangey-red fruit in great profusion, making a wonderful display. It produces ripe orange flattened oblong fruit up to 9 mm long that native birds love, between February and May, then flowers around April.


Kanono has large membranous leaves (15-20cm x 7-10cm) are often mottled and not shiny. The leaves are oval with a pointy end and distinct vein pattern.

Maori used the leaves for poulticing bruises and broken arms and legs, with the bark used to ease the general aches and pains of the body.



Elderberry (sambucus nigra)


Elderberries are fast growing producers of large bunches of small black berries.  The shrub grows two to three metres tall.  They require high moisture and fertile soil to crop heavily. Flowers are great for making elder flower lemonade or champagne. The berries are good to eat (cooked) and make excellent jelly, cordial, elderflower champagne or wine as well as having a wide range of medicinal properties as noted at   Herbwisdom

The berries can be used for chicken & duck food.

Note that the wood of elderberry is poisonous and it is recommended to cook the berries at least a little to enhance their taste and digestibility.


Elderberry  champagne

Make your own bubbly with this elderflower champagne recipe from River Cottage Spring

Makes about 6 litres


4 litres hot water

700g sugar

Juice and zest of four lemons

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

About 15 elderflower heads, in full bloom

A pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this)


Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.

Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.

Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.

Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers (available from home-brewing suppliers) or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential).

Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place


To avoid explosions, use strong bottles and strong seals. A really active mixture can produce lots of gas if left for a long period, so do remember to let it off regularly to prevent explosions!

© River Cottage (opens in a new window)

Elderberry Cordial

This makes 1 pint of elderberry cordial:

2lbs caster sugar
1 pint boiling water
1 lemon, zested then sliced
1 1/4 oz of citric acid (I used three teaspoons)
25 elderberry heads.

Wash and drain the elderberry heads before removing the berries and putting in a sauce pan.

Add the sugar and boiling water and put over a medium heat. Stir continuously until all the sugar has dissolved in the simmering water then add the citric acid and lemon zest and slices.

Combine well and simmer for a further five minutes before covering with a tea towel. Put the saucepan in a cool place and leave overnight to let the flavours infuse.

After it has rested, strain through a piece of muslin. Store in a dark place. The cordial can be used immediately and keeps for at least three months.


Balm of Gilead (Cedronella canariensis)

(Note: This is not the true Balsam of Gilead, which is a rare tree)

Balm of Gilead is a perennial, and wll grow up to a metre high. It has been used as a treatment for coughs and colds and is taken as a tea or infusion of the flowers and leaves. It is also a relaxant and antidepressant. Its wonderful smell alone is enough to revive the spirits. Does well in pots

The scent of Balm of Gilead has been described as a mixture of Camphor and Lemon Balm and also a bit like Eucalyptus. It is a wonderful perfume whatever you think it smells like.

Balm of Gilead has been recommended a remedy for chest complaints and breathing difficulties and it is inhaled as a decongestant.

Hardiness: to 20 degrees F- while described as frost tender it does well in Dunedin’s climate

Leaves can be used fresh or dried for tea. Dried they contribute a woodsy fragrance for potpourri.

It has been used as a treatment for coughs and colds and is taken as a tea or infusion of the flowers and leaves. It is also a relaxant and antidepressant. Its wonderful smell alone is enough to revive the spirits.

Balm of Gilead has been recommended a remedy for chest complaints and breathing difficulties and it is inhaled as a decongestant. It is a good remedy for coughs and colds and provides some pain-relieving properties too, as well as being good for the digestion.


Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum

The Horse Chestnut can grow to 36 metres (118 ft) tall, with a domed crown of stout branches; on old trees the outer branches often pendulous with curled-up tips.

The spectacular spring flowers are usually white with a small red spot; they are produced in spring in erect panicles 10–30 cm tall with about 20–50 flowers on each panicle. Usually only 1–5 fruit develop on each panicle; the shell is a green, spiky capsule containing one (rarely two or three) nut-like seeds called conkers or horse-chestnuts. Each conker is 2–4 cm diameter, glossy nut-brown with a whitish scar at the base.

The nuts, especially those that are young and fresh, are slightly poisonous, containing alkaloid saponins and glucosides. Although not dangerous to touch, they cause sickness when eaten

The nuts can be used for the popular children’s game conkers.

It is widely cultivated in streets and parks throughout the temperate world.


Bronze Fennel  (Foeniculum vulgare purpureum)

Bronze Fennel is a perennial herb and will grow up to 180cms high, with a spread of up to 60 cms.

Likes full sun. Hardy

The bronze or purple form of garden fennel (not to be confused with sweet or Florence fennel, an annual vegetable grown for its swollen bulbs) is a handsome and popular perennial, often planted on its own for impact or combined with bergamot in flower borders. With plenty of humus and water in dry weather, plants develop into magnificent clumps of airy feather foliage, crowned in late summer with large heads of tiny flowers. The seeds are as useful herbally as the leaves, and may be left to ripen as a crop.

Bronze Fennel can be used in place of Green Fennel in any recipe, and the soft wispy leaves with their unique bronze color add a lot of visual interest in the flower or herb garden. With a height of four feet and a breadth almost as great, its wide spreading grace also makes it the perfect back of the border plant for cottage gardens. By the end of the summer it will put up tall spikes that will be endowed with little yellow button flowers. If left on the plant, these will turn brown and make fennel seeds that can be used in stews and curries. If these spikes are cut back to the ground the plant will stay looking better longer.

The leaves are great with fish and can be used to stuff the cavity of a whole fish or to wrap fillets



Griselinia littoralis (Broadleaf) – (kapuka) (NZ NATIVE)

Moderately quick-growing (up to a metre  a year, especially in full sun)

A small  tree up  to  10m  high, the trunk  is short and twisted up  to  1.5 metres in  diameter. There are many branches,  with the bark  brownish  rough and wrinkled.

The 10 cm long roundish leaves are thick, leathery and glossy green with small inconspicuous flowers. This plant is dioecious; meaning male and female flowers are on separate plants.

Flowers are very small and greenish, flowering   from late spring to  mid-summer . The small berries are dark purple to black, ripening  from  mid-summer through  autumn  to winter.

Plant in cool coastal full sun to light shade in well-draining, slightly fertile soil and give average watering. Can withstand seaside conditions, as well as windy sites but does not like hot dry conditions so is best kept as a coastal plant when used in full sun or with shade inland.

Broadleaf is native to the lowland up into montane forests in the North and  South Island and Stewart Island. The The tree is named after the  Italian botanist Francesco Griselini (1717-1787). The name “littoralis” is from the Latin. meaning “of the sea shore”, in reference to this plant often growing by the sea.



Encourage our native birds and insects back to your garden!

Forest and Bird note that your home garden can help to provide shelter, food and nesting places for native birds in the city.
Any garden can be made more attractive to wildlife, even if it is only a few square metres in size.
Here are a few of their ideas:
• Grow native trees and shrubs that provide nectar, seeds or berries
• Select the native plants you grow so that food is available all year
• Provide diverse habitats by grouping plants in mixed communities
• Grow together plants which vary in height
• A thick layer of humus will attract insects for birds to feed on
• A “wild” area that is seldom disturbed will provide nesting sites

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