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Top 10 (Native) Trees in New Zealand that Thrive in Damp Areas

If your house is located in one of the damp and moist zones in New Zealand, we advise that you make most of it. Find the perfect spot, put a fence around it and try planting a native plant that will blossom in its most amazing shape and size in that area. Our expert arborist in Christchurch decided to highlight New Zealand’s top 10 swamp-friendly trees that use up a good amount of water or prefer moist soil for their survival.



Scientific name: Carpodetus serratus

Height: Between 7 and 10 metres

Prefers: streambanks, woodlands (forests), and any other wet or muddy area


The putaputaweta gets its name from the holes in its trunk caused by puriri moth larvae, which are the preferred habitat for weta insects. From November to March, this little tree is completely covered with clusters of white-cream star-like flowers. After 18 months it produces red-black berries. It can be sensitive to frost when young.



Scientific name: Pratia physalloides

Height: Between 1.5 and 2 metres

Prefers: Dappled shade and moist soil; often found in gullies


The leaves of the Koru are fairly similar in shape and size to those of the hydrangea. It’s a bushy shrub that blooms between February and March with 3 to 5 cm long racemes (stalks) of lilac flowers followed by beautiful glossy, purple-blue berries. It is native to the Far North, and although it thrives in disturbed soils, it is becoming increasingly challenging to locate it in the wild because of its taste. Because of its frost sensitivity, it makes an excellent indoor plant if you live farther south. It’s more likely to be found in a specialised native nursery like Oratia Native Plants.



Scientific name: Laurelia novae-zelandiae

Height: Up to 36 metres

Prefers: Likes: wetlands, wet ravines


This magnificent tree is capable of growing into one of the tallest native trees in New Zealand. As an adult, it has enormous buttress roots that help it stay upright on damp soils, but during its younger years, its crimson red stems and tooth-like glossy green leaves make an excellent specimen. Its sole disadvantage is that it grows slowly and is intolerant to dry and cold atmospheres. However, its beauty makes it a great choice for planting on residential land in a marshy location.


Get in touch with a professional arborist in Christchurch if you need more info on how you can go about it.



Scientific name: Rhopalostylis sapida

Height: Up to 10 metres


Prefers: When young, they prefer gentle shade, sufficient moisture and protection from the wind. They also like damp ravines (gullies), depressions, and the bases of steep hills. The nikau, New Zealand’s southerly native palm, has gained popularity in recent years due to its unusual appearance. It grows slowly, needing about 15 to 20 years to form a trunk, but is very much worth the wait. They’re an excellent source of food for birds, but their light pink flowers and bright red berries need protection from the carnage of wild animals.



Scientific name: Syzygium maire

Height: Up to 15 metres


Prefers: A sunny location in a boggy environment. It also thrives in very wet grounds and can also withstand dry soil.


The swamp maire is one of the few indigenous trees that develop breathing roots (pneumatophores) that rise above the ground and helps its roots to breathe. It holds an exquisite set of bronze leaves, bright silver bark, white-cream powder-puff blooms, and huge, bright-red berries.



Scientific name: Plagianthus regius

Height: Up to 10 metres


Prefers: From full sun to partial shade, moist soil and poor soil, they will endure frosts, wind, and dry soils, but not extreme dryness.


The ribbonwood is one of the few yet fastest-growing deciduous (semi-deciduous in north of Auckland) indigenous trees in New Zealand. It can survive heavy winds and grows perfectly well within the borders. As with another swamp-loving species, the kahikatea, it develops a bushy juvenile stage before flowering with male and female flowers followed by berries. It is often seen growing around bodies of water.



Scientific name: Vitex lucens

Height: Up to 20 metres

Prefers: Fertile, deep, moist soil, and is breeze-tolerant.


Puriri is a large canopy tree that is known for its ability to store fruits for up to 8 months, which is why it attracts a herd of woodpigeons most of the time a year.


It is self-fertile and is capable of producing hundreds of seedlings in an ideal growing environment. Although black in colour, its glossy leaves add to its striking features. They are sensitive to frost when young.



Scientific name: Schefflera digitata

Height: Up to 3 metres


Prefers: While the pate is adaptable to most situations, including the cold, it particularly loves semi-shade and moist soil.


The Pate tree is a fast-growing, spreading tree with greenish-white flowers that bloom under its leaves during the summer. However, its most striking feature is its seven-fingered (hence the name) leaf. One can see its trees filled with white and purple berries from the months of February till July. It doesn’t thrive in flooded soils and windy locations.



Scientific name: Elaeocarpus hookerianus

Height: Up to 12 metres


Prefers: A moist, deep but well-draining soil that tolerates relatively exposed conditions and is quite drought-tolerant once planted.


From a thick, bushy shrub, the Pokaka plant matures into a rounded tree, which finally turns into a canopy. It produces white-yellow flowers, followed by oval-shaped purple drupes.


It looks like a Pittosporum tuneri plant, but has more varieties of leaf shapes, including more lobed or serrated leaves.



Scientific name: Melicytus ramiflorus

Height: Up to 10 metres

Prefers: Moist soil, wind-resistant, and can tolerate mild but not heavy frost.


An essential nursery tree, the Mahoe is well-known for its unique white bark (often coated in white lichen) and its surplus harvest of little purple berries on its female trees (especially, when the male one is around).


From November to December, it grows greenish-white flowers, and from January to March, it bears the fruits. It resembles a privet in appearance, except its leaves are serrated (tooth-like). Depending on the environment, it can grow into a spreading tree or a lanky-looking shrub.


The list is however endless. To know more, get in touch with our professional arborist in Christchurch today!