24 Nov 2021

How to make pōhutukawa stamen cordial

From Afternoons, 1:40 pm on 24 November 2021

Pōhutukawa trees are bursting into bloom around Aotearoa as we head into summer.

But the beautiful bright-red flowers are not just good to look at, says Whangaparaoa forager Calum Hodgson

He's come up with a recipe for Pōhutukawa Stamen Cordial.


Photo: Rowan Simpson / Unsplash

Forager and 'cheese nerd' Calum Hodgson

Forager and 'cheese nerd' Calum Hodgson Photo: Culture Cheese Magazine

Calum tells Jesse Mulligan he's about a year into an obsession with picking botanicals and making cordial out of them.

He'd read something about the stamen of pōhutukawa flowers being turned into cordial and decided to "have a hoon on that."

The cordial he made tasted beautiful and pōhutukawa has become the "piece de resistance" of Calum's cordials.

For some reason, pōhutukawa hasn't been utilised as a botanical ingredient, but the stamen has potential for distilleries, breweries and as an ingredient in kombucha, Calum says.

People are really struck by the idea that they can drink something derived from a native tree that's so synonymous with New Zealand.

"Everyone has lots of happy memories with pōhutukawa … it means the festive period and summer is coming and all these happy memories so to be able to consume that is a bit of a double whammy."

To make a litre of cordial you'll need about 300 - 400 grams of pōhutukawa stamens - the long slender stalks in the middle of the flower. 

On the ground around the base of each pōhutukawa tree there are plenty of fallen blooms so there are plenty of stamens to go around, Calum says.

"The trees are very blessed and bountiful, the bees won't go without."

When you're foraging, treat all sites with respect so you can return in the future and others can forage there, too, Calum says. He follows the UK Forager's Association Code of Best Practice.

Pōhutukawa Stamen Cordial

Makes 1 litre

No caption

Photo: Callum Hodgson


  • 300 to 400 grams of pōhutukawa stamens
  • 1 litre of water
  • 100g of sugar


Boil the water and reduce it to a simmer.

Add the sugar and simmer until it's absorbed.

Turn off the heat.

Chuck your stamens in and let the mixture steep overnight, brewing like a cup of tea.

The next day, strain out the stamens, gently pressing but not squeezing them.

Bottle your cordial in something clean.

Calum recommends serving this cordial with bubbles or gin.