Metrosideros excelsa forms a wide-spreading, evergreen tree 30–70 ft (9–21 m) high. The mature leaves are round, leathery, dark green and 1–4 in (2.5–10 cm) long. The flowers are a spectacular spray of red stamens, several inches across.
Metrosideros excelsa is found in coastal forest in the North Island, as far south as Gisborne in the east and New Plymouth in the west. This a much-loved plant is called the New Zealand Christmas tree (due to its time of flowering) or pohutukawa (its Maori name). In most of the UK it is too tender to survive a winter outside.