The Northern Rata (Metrosideros robusta) is one of the native trees we see on our guided walks through Puketi Forest. The Northern rata tree can grow up to 30 metres tall with a massive trunk of up to 2 metres or more in diameter. Northern rata requires plenty of light and it usually begins life as an epiphyte (a perching plant), high in the canopy of a suitable host tree. However it can also grow from the ground.
If established as an epiphyte, the trunk is not a true stem but is comprised of a number of fused roots. The epiphyte sends down roots which grow a supporting trunk around the host tree. The foster tree of epiphytic rata is usually rimu.
The bark is rough and flaky. The leaves are 2.5 – 5 cm long x 1.5 -2 cm wide, hairless, rounded and a little notched at the tip with the fine vein network clearly visible below. The flowers are red, with stamens 1-1.5 cm long. The capsules are about 7 mm long x 3.5-5 mm wide. The flowers appear during the summer and seeds are released during the following Autumn.