Definition of kowhai in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkɔːfʌɪ//ˈkəʊwʌɪ/


  • A tree of the pea family, which bears hanging clusters of yellow flowers. It is native to New Zealand and Chile and yields useful timber.

    Sophora tetraptera, family Leguminosae

    • ‘She wrote in a letter that the pleasure of living above Bridger Park, with its line of flowering golden kowhai next to the stream, was reward enough.’
    • ‘To see a stand of mature red beech and also kowhai, fuchsia and rata trees choose Bob's Cove Bridle Track, a walk that takes 1.5 hours.’
    • ‘At the end of the book, a kowhai is planted, a reminder of the bush that once covered the hill.’
    • ‘Because they eat the new growth they have destroyed large areas of native rata, totara, titoki, kowhai and other species.’
    • ‘He is regenerating mahoe, karaka (called kopi in the Chathams), ribbonwood, matipo, karamu, nikau palms, lancewoods, and kowhai.’


Mid 19th century: from Maori.