Beilschmiedia tawa, the tawa tree, is a New Zealand broadleaf tree common in the central parts of the country. Tawa is often the dominant canopy species in lowland forests in the North Island and the north east of the South Island. Individual specimens may grow up to 30 metres or more in height with trunks up to 1.2 metres in diameter, and they have smooth dark bark. The word “tawa” is the Maori name for the tree.
Tawa trees produce small inconspicuous flowers followed by 2 – 3.5 cm long fruit of a dark red plum colour. With such large fruits the tawa is notable for the fact that it relies solely on the New Zealand pigeon (kereru) and (where present) the North Island kokako for dispersal of its seed. These are the only remaining birds from New Zealand’s original biota large enough to eat the fruits of this tree and pass the seeds through their guts and excrete them unharmed.