The Kauri Tree

You may not be familiar with this one; it grows in North lsland New Zealand and is almost as big as the Giant Sequoias in California.

It can grow up to180 feet high and normally lives about 500 years, some records put it nearer 1000 years. Ancient logs dug up from bogs have been dated from 60,000 years ago and evidence proved they existed about 150 million years ago.

They are a pine tree with massive bulk, unlike the Sequoias which tapers on the way up the Kauri is parallel, as it grows higher it sheds its branches on the way  up and leaves a straight grained tree up to the ball shaped foliage at the top.

This tree must have lots of light to survive and it looks after itself. It keeps shedding its bark as it grows which piles up at the base of the tree, sometimes six feet high. This bark contains a high amount of acid along with a fungus which develops in all the rubbish, when it rains this acid is washed down into the clay and releases the nutrients it needs. The tree provides a very fibrous root system near the surface along with several very deep peg like roots to stabilize such a very tall tree. This pile of rubbish that the tree has produced, due to the leaching, it makes the soil unsuitable for other species to grow near to it thereby giving itself all the light at the top it needs.

Just like the Sequoias, in the 1700 to 1800s they were heavily logged due to their beautiful timber, it is straight grained and wonderful to work with, it has a high strength low weight ratio. ln the early days it was used for tall masts for ships and extensively for house building, boat building, furniture and general woodworking. The tree also produced a gum which made varnish.

It is estimated that original Kauri forest covered some 5000 square miles and now due to logging is down to about 200 square miles. In 1970 the Kauri forests became a protected species. At the moment a die back disease similar to Dutch elm disease is causing problems and scientist is trying to find a cure.

Timber from this tree is very difficult to find a supplier even in New Zealand, although turned objects are available to buy on line. If anyone knows where to buy it from let me know.

I hope you find this article interesting.