Puriri are endemic to New Zealand. Their natural growing range is in the upper half of the North Island. They can grow up to 20 metres (65 feet) high. Puriri is an important food source for species such as the kereru because the tree provides fruit and nectar in seasons when most other trees do not. Puriri can actually flower throughout the year. They also host many species of bird and some moths.
In the past, Puriri were selectively logged so that straight trees where cut down leaving behind twisted and gnarled puriri. This has led to a change in their gene pool with the near eradication of the straight variety.
The Maori extracted chemical compounds from the leaves by boiling them to soothe aches, sprains, ulcers, and sore throats.