Karaka berries

WARNING on Karaka berries and their seeds – HIGHLY TOXIC TO DOGS.

Karaka trees (Corynocarpus laevigatus) are native to New Zealand and are prevalent in many parks and forest areas.

The berry kernels, however, contain a virulent alkaloid poison, named Karakin and various other toxic nitropropanoyl glucopyranoses (NPGs) that are yet to be fully described in terms of their individual effects on dogs and humans.Most warnings online will show only photos of the berries, brightly coloured and hard to miss.

In reality, it is hardly ever these bright yellow/orange/green berries (labelled 1 and 2) that you will see on the ground, but the rotting or decaying outer husks (labelled 3 and 4).

These can sometimes be partially covered in some remaining orange flesh, but more often than not they look very dry and seemingly dead.

The powerful neurotoxins are in fact contained in the inner kernel/seed, shown here (label 5) inside the soft outer husk, and at label 6, removed from the husk.

Even when the outer husks seem dry and old, the toxin will still remain strong.

The outer husk is very thin and can easily be chewed through by a small dog.

If your dog ingests ANY part of a Karaka berry, fleshy fruit, husk or seed, take them to a Veterinarian immediately and without delay. If taken soon enough, the dog can be made to vomit and hopefully the effects reduced. Hopefully these images will help dog owners to identify the husks on the ground, as well as the fleshy fruit that most people associate with toxicity.

words and photos by  Environmental and Animal Sciences - Unitec