Botanical name: Rhopalostylis sapida

Habitat: The Nikau is a palm tree native to New Zealand, and prefers coastal and lowland forest. They do not like the very cold or frost.

Appearance: The Nikau grows up to 15 m tall, with a green trunk with grey-green leaf scars. The fronds are up to 3m long. The fruit is red when ripe and takes almost a year to fully ripen. These are a preferred food of the Kereru, the native wood pigeon.



Use: Māori has many uses for the Nikau. The bases of the inner leaves were eaten raw or cooked, so were the young flower clusters. Food was wrapped in the leaves for cooking, and old fibrous leaves were used for baskets, floor mats, and waterproof thatch for buildings. Māori made storage containers and pots from the trunk. The hard berries were made into necklaces or eaten when green.


  • What kind of tree is the Nikau?
  • What colour is the fruit on a Nikau, and what animals like to eat them?

More information can be found here:

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Alysha and Zubair to this research.