20 May 2019

Orange Bark Myrtle

Luma apiculata, Amomyrtus luma or Myrtus luma

So many different names! This is one of Eastwoodhill’s most notable trees, and it is well placed to greet you as you return to the garden and be admired.

The orange bark myrtle is a member of the Myrtaceae and is related to the Eucalyptus, manuka, kanuka, pohutakawa and guava. Small white flowers smother the tree over summer. The fruit is small and black, sweet and edible, but it takes many to make a meal. Blackbirds and kereru readily eat them and seedlings come up occasionally in the park.

The main feature of the tree is the peeling bark with colours ranging from white to orange. Orange bark myrtle rivals the Californian Madrona Arbutus menziesii for its coloured bark. In Argentina it is evidently called the Bambi tree as the background of the Bambi film was shot in a forest of orange bark myrtle trees.

This tree was purchased from Hillier’s in England in 1950 and Douglas Cook grew several from cuttings, two of which are planted down Cabbage Tree Avenue and in Pear Park. The plants can be grown from seed, but bark colour can be quite variable.