@UCSD: An Alumni Publication

An Alumni Publication   Archive vol1no3 Contact
Up Front: Letters to and from the editor
Campus Currents: UCSD Stories
Shelf Life: Books
Cliff Notes: Student life and sports
Class Notes: Alumni profiles
Campaign Update: Imagine the Future
Looking Back: Thoughts on UCSD
Credits: Staff and Contributors

On The Job: A
     Soldier's Story

Stem-Cell Revolution
Together We Achieve      the Extraordinary
Piano Playing Provost

Making Waves

Waves of Generosity
Masters of Disguise
The Pohutukawa Spirit
What's In A Name
Geisel in Other Guise
Water Wings
Couch Potato-thon
Cross Purpose


Features May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2

Haunted By The Pohutukawa Spirit


Walk through the courtyard of the chancellor’s complex and
you’ll find a plant so peculiar it would be more at home with Horton and the Whos: a tree with pendulous, hairy appendages, hanging from the branches down to the ground. Or are they groping upward?

In fact they are the aerial roots of this New Zealand Christmas tree, or Pohutukawa in Maori. Besides doing what roots normally do, they act as guy wires helping these trees cling to the rocky, windswept, coastal cliffs of their native country.

The tree’s name comes from the bright red eucalyptus-like
flowers that bloom profusely around Christmas (summertime in New Zealand). In the 1950s, these trees were the inspiration for a series of children’s books. Avis Acres wrote fairy stories about cherubic Pohutukawa spirits, with
hair the color of the tree’s crimson blossoms. The books also delivered prescient conservation messages—as if an antipodean Lorax was trying to save the Truffula trees. The Pohutukawa is now threatened in New Zealand due to land management practices and the introduction of non-native possums who feed on it.

Contributors to Making Waves: Jessica Demian, Raymond Hardie, Heather Henter, Evelyn Hsieh, '05, Sue Pondrom.



Metrosideros Excelsus

New Zealand Christmas Tree Seeds

Pohutukawa FAQ