My eye has been caught in the past few days by clusters of fat yellow/orange berries hanging on native trees. They are Karaka trees which produce their very large berries in summer time.
There is a small Karaka tree on the reserve next to my home and it has plenty of berries on it too this year. It is a surprisingly small size given how big Karaka trees can grow and normally it has very few berries on it but this year it is dotted with the pretty coloured berries.
From Te Ara, the online encyclopaedia of New Zealand I read that the seed inside of each berry contains Karakin, a lethal toxin. Maori discovered that by first baking and then soaking the seeds in water they are safe for human consumption. Don’t try this at home without further detailed information I would suggest.
However in true symbiotic style our beautiful native wood pigeon, the Kereru is the only bird who can swallow these whopping berries and they help regenerate the Karaka trees.
The feast of berries this summer is going to fill the substantial bellies of Kereru who are appearing in our area in increasing numbers.
I wonder if the small tree near my home will be visited by passing Keruru? I hope so.