The kowhai is perhaps one of New Zealand’s most well-known trees. It is a member of the Sophora genus (pronounced SOFFor-uh) which is name that comes from an old Arabic name for a tree with a pea like flower. There are in fact eight distinct species all of which are endemic to New Zealand. Each occur naturally in specific habitats and geographical locations but many cultivated and wild varieties are found throughout the country in parks and private gardens. Visit any New Zealand school and you can almost guarantee to find kowhai trees growing within the grounds. The different species vary a lot in size and form. The ‘common kowhai’ (Sophora microphylla) (The most widespread of the New Zealand species) and found planted at Moturoa School, is a small leaved plant that passes through a distinctly tangled juvenile phase before forming a small tree of up to 10 metres. The ‘prostrate kowhai’ (Sophora prostrata) retains its divaricating form through maturity and only forms a shrub of up to 2 metres high. The prostrate kowhai, which can also be found in the school gardens also, has much smaller flowers that are of a darker shade of amber.