Karo is a small native tree, which is endemic to the top half of the North Island. It has been introduced further south, where it is often considered a weed! Karo have rounded leaves with silvery undersides and tiny maroon flowers in spring, which are very attractive to tūi, silvereyes and bees. The flowers are beautifully scented at night. Karo have fuzzy pale green pods that split open in late summer to show their sticky seeds, which many birds feed on. The name pittosporum means ‘tar-seed’ which describes the sticky coating on the outside of the seeds.
This year has been a particularly strong flowering year for karo. See if you can find one on your walk and watch what visits them - often birds feeding on their flowers are too busy eating to make much noise so it can take a little while to notice them. Karo flowers produce more nectar when it is sunny so this is the best time to watch for their visitors. Karo can cope with a range of conditions and are happy to grow in dry, exposed positions. They work well as a clipped hedge or windbreak and grow well in coastal areas. Karo are a good replacement for weeds growing on tough, dry soil, like hakea.