Karo, or Pittosporum crassifolium, is one of many species of pittosporum growing as evergreen shrubs or small trees. It is native of the North Island of New Zealand and is well suited for urban plantings as it is tolerant of heat, pollution, and compacted soils. Its maximum height is 25 feet which makes it ideal for the smaller gardens of today, or it could even be maintained as a large shrub.

It has very attractive, and unusual, foliage that appears whitish in color. These grey-green round leaves are covered with greyish hairs that give the leaves their smokey hue. But the flowers are even more dramatic being fragrant and a rich, dark red. The blossoms lead to large green seed capsules that eventually split to reveal the black seeds, from which a blue dye can be obtained.

It does particularly well in coastal areas as it is salt tolerant and it is pest and disease free. The density of the foliage makes it quite adaptable for hedging or as a screen. Aside from its inability to withstand hard freezes, this is one of the most versatile trees anywhere. It grows in the warmer parts of North America, and throughout Australia and New Zealand where it is a popular boulevard tree. It can also grow in the south and west of the UK.



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