Higher classification Faboideae
Scientific name Clianthus puniceus
|Similar Clianthus, Clianthus maximus, New Zealand kaka, Legumes, Carmichaelia|
Clianthus puniceus lobster claw parrot s bill
Clianthus puniceus, common name kaka beak (Kōwhai Ngutu-kākā in Māori), is a species of flowering plant in the genus Clianthus of the legume family Fabaceae, native to New Zealand's North Island. It is an evergreen shrub, one of two species of Clianthus, both of which have striking clusters of red flowers resembling the beak of the kākā, a New Zealand parrot. The plant is also known as parrot's beak, parrot's bill and lobster claw. There is also a variety with white to creamy coloured flowers.
The Latin specific epithet puniceus refers to the reddish-purple colour of the flowers.
The species is critically endangered in the wild, known only on Moturemu Island in the Kaipara Harbour. It was previously widely grown as a garden plant, but has generally been replaced by the more robust Clianthus maximus.
C. puniceus grows to around 2 m (6 ft 7 in) high, with spreading branches producing leaf stalks up to 15 cm (6 in) long bearing several pairs of small leaflets. They usually flower from spring through to early summer, but can flower twice a year or even year round. Its scandent habit means it can be trained against a wall. It requires shelter from frosts.
This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.