(previously known as Apeiba australis)
Having balsa-like wood, Whau was used by Māori in making fishing floats and coastal fishing rafts.
The tree is short-lived – rarely to much more than 10 years – but can grow up to 3m in a season.
5m high x 4m wide. Whau is easily recognised by its large almost grape-like soft leaves – to 25cm across, its spiked chestnut-like seed cases and its showy white flowers through spring and summer.
This tree suits use as a nurse crop in sheltered coastal revegetation, with a short lifespan and providing good shade beneath.
It can provide attractive and fast growing screening, particularly where more permanent trees can be established below.
The large leaves also present an effective tropical effect when Whau is planted with other coarse-textured species.
Whau requires warmth, good light levels and shelter from frost and abrasive winds. Plant 2-3m apart in most soils, including coastal sandy sites. Prefers adequate moisture.
Whau is an opportunist tree, the seeds bursting into life where the forest canopy is broken and light levels are high. This assists the establishment of more climax tree species.
Tiritiri Matangi – Whau
Royal Society of NZ – Entelea arborescens
NZ Plant Conservation Network – Whau
The Entelea Page