A New Zealand forest tree (Metrosideros robusta), also, its hard dark red wood, used by the Maoris for paddles and war clubs.
Rata trees have beautiful red flowers that provide nectar for birds like tui. Possums love to eat rata leaves, so rata has declined in many areas of the country. One type of rata, called northern rata, starts by growing as an epiphyte high up in another tree. A rata seed lands on a tree branch and then sends roots down the side of the host tree to the ground. The rata tree will surround the host tree with its roots and trunk until eventually its host is swallowed up
Rata is represented by twelve species of trees and vines to New Zealand belonging to genus Metrosideros, the best-known species being Metrosideros robusta (Northern rata), M. umbellata (Southern rata), M. excelsa (Pohutukawa) and the extremely rare M. Bartletii (Cape Reinga White Rata). All trees bear prolific red or white/cream flowers around the end of December earning their name as the New Zealand Christmas Trees.