the wonderful wonder tree
Have you seen the wonderful wonder trees in Cornwall Park?Wonder trees (Idesia polycarpa), also known as Chinese wonder trees or Igiri trees, are exotic in Aotearoa New Zealand and native to East Asia, having been brought to Aotearoa New Zealand for use as ornamental plants. The wonder trees in Cornwall Park can be found at the Green Lane west end of Puriri Drive and next to Pohutakawa Drive over the fence to the east.
General facts and informationWonder trees are the only species in their genus (Idesia) and belong to the family Salicaceae, which includes willows and poplars. They are deciduous trees, meaning they lose their leaves every winter. In their native environment, wonder trees are known to colonise areas that have been disturbed, growing quickly to take advantage of the space, making them pioneer trees. They can survive in a wide range of conditions but produce better fruit in hot summer locations. Wonder trees seem to do well in the Aotearoa New Zealand climate, however, they can be naturally short-lived trees compared to other species, sometimes only living a few decades.
Wonder trees are medium-sized trees, growing up between 10m to 20m tall. They are distinctive in their horizontal branches, with the spread of the tree being up to 8m wide. They are also known for their leaves, flowers, and fruit. The leaves of the wonder tree are large and heart-shaped, with yellow-green flowers, and their fruit ripens to bright red.
ReproductionWonder trees are dioecious, which means that individual trees are separate sexes, male or female. This trait is not common among trees, though it can also be seen in Ginkgo trees (Ginkgo biloba), which can also be found in the park. (insert link to Ginkgos) Both male and female wonder trees produce flowers, but only females produce fruit. These trees reproduce through pollen from male trees being spread to female trees by insects. The female trees are then able to produce fruit, which is eaten by birds, who spread the seeds. It is also thought that female trees may be able to produce some fruit on their own without being pollinated by a male tree. Seedlings have been observed growing in Cornwall Park underneath other trees, which may be due to blackbirds spreading seeds.
Now that you know more about these wonderful trees, we hope you will go have a look for our wonder trees with their bright red fruit the next time you visit us! Please remember that foraging is not permitted in Cornwall Park. You can also always learn more about the different trees in the park at Huia Lodge Discovery Hub.