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New Zealand Christmas Tree Metrosideros excelsus 


Children's Tree of Life

Photo credit: Dave Baiocchi  

Metrosideros excelsus, or New Zealand Christmas trees, so named because they bloom bright scarlet during their native New Zealand's Christmas season, are coastal evergreen trees that generally grow to be around 80ft (24m) high, with a spreading, dome-like form. They are renowned for their brilliant red bottlebrush-like flowers, and have long, leathery, densely spaced leaves, which are glossy dark green and turn grayer on the lower surface with age. The bark of this tree is a rough, dark brown. Adventitious aerial roots often sprout from the trunks and woody stems of older trees.

The Maori, indigenous people of New Zealand, used the dense, strong wood of Metrosideros excelsus for ship building and tools for many centuries.

The New Zealand Christmas tree at the South end of Palisades Park, christened the Children's Tree of Life, was originally planted at a 1983 Earth Day peace celebration and was proclaimed a "living monument to world peace" by late Santa Monica Mayor Ken Edwards. Today it stands roughly 20ft (6m) tall with a canopy spread of 15ft (5m) and a diameter of 10in (35cm).

The tree was rededicated on its planting anniversary on April 22, 2013.


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