Karaka trees are native to New Zealand and are abundant in public places throughout Nelson, including the back beach at Tahunanui, parks and reserves and private properties.

Dog owners should be aware that the berries are highly toxic, and consumption can be fatal. 

The trees pose the greatest threat to dogs between summer and autumn, as the berries ripen and fall to the ground.

The karaka tree, which can grow up to 15 metres and has thick dark leaves, has bright orange berries up to 4cm long, making it very distinctive. 

The tree can grow up to 15 metres and has thick dark leaves. 

Residents should keep an eye out for karaka trees in their area at this time of year and take care when walking their dog.

Signs of karaka berry poisoning include confusion, weakness, vomiting, hind leg paralysis and convulsions. 

There can be a delay of 24-48 hours between berry consumption and symptoms.

If you suspect your dog has ingested karaka berries, contact a vet immediately.

Information and advice about poisonous plants is available on the New Zealand National Poisons Centre website.