Knightia excelsa - R.Br.
Common Name Rewarewa
Family Proteaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Lowland to montane forest in North Island and on the northern tip of South Island[173].
Range New Zealand.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.


Knightia excelsa Rewarewa
Knightia excelsa Rewarewa
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of cone
Knightia excelsa is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 4 m (13ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Nectar.
Edible Uses:

The flowers are very rich in nectar, this can be extracted and used as food. It contains about 45% sugars[173].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known


Other Uses

Wood - handsomely variegated. Highly valued for superior woodwork, inlay etc[1].
Cultivation details
Succeeds in any well-drained fertile soil in sun or semi-shade[200]. Requires protection from cold and drying winds[200]. Plants tolerate very light and short-lived frosts, but they are best with a minimum winter temperature of about 3°c[200]. Another report says that trees are hardy in south Cornwall[1]. A very good bee plant[173].
Seed - sow spring in a warm greenhouse[188]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
david n   Fri May 26 13:33:33 2000
The rotting wood of Knightia excelsa glows in the dark (!!!) according to a facinating book by Murdoch Riley (Maori Healing and Herbal- New Zealand Ethnobotanical sourcebook) This seems remarkable to me, appaently some people used to light their houses with it.

I wonder if there are other trees that do this. Only works when wet, a wet light source, sounds safe, in terms of fire at least.

I've lived in New Zealand most of my life, it's the 1st I've heard of this. Will be testing it asap.

It is usually a very good looking plant.

I planted a knightia in a very exposed spot with occasional salt spray it is a little disfigured, lopsided but growing well, they look better with moderate exposure. Takes some frost.

david   Tue Aug 29 13:38:58 2000
Update on above comment:

I've been unable to produce any light from experiments with rotting Knightia wood in jars indoors so far. I've checked the Encylopaedia Britannica on bioluminesence, it says no true plant is known to be bioluminesent.It seems most likely a luminous bacteria or fungi was at work, perhaps one with relationship with Knightia. The report could be inaccurate of course, the are two luminous creatures around NZ streams (the one I've seen, glow worm, is too weak to use for lighting) which may have been involved.

Still, bioluminesence could be worth exploring for organic self reliance simplicity safety reasons even though it does not, unfortunately, seem to fit exactly into the category of plants.

Graham Clark   Wed Dec 27 2006
I would imagine that it is not the decaying timber that is phosphorescent but the fungal body responcible for the decay !
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.
Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Knightia excelsa  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.