Metrosideros excelsa, pōhutukawa, is a coastal evergreen tree in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, that produces a brilliant display of red (or occasionally orange, yellow or white) flowers made up of a mass of stamens. The pōhutukawa is one of twelve Metrosideros species endemic to New Zealand. Renowned for its vibrant colour and its ability to survive even perched on rocky, precarious cliffs, it has found an important place in New Zealand culture for its strength and beauty.
The pōhutukawa grows up to 25m high, with a spreading, dome-like form. It usually grows as a multi-trunked spreading tree. Its trunks and branches are sometimes festooned with matted, fibrous aerial roots.
The tree flowers from November to January with a peak in mid to late December, with brilliant crimson flowers covering the tree, hence the nickname New Zealand Christmas tree. There is variation between individual trees in the timing of flowering, and in the shade and brightness of the flowers.