Myrsine australis


Myrsine: myrrh
australis: southern

Common Name(s)

Red mapou, red matipo, mapau, red maple

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Myrsine australis (A.Rich.) Allan



Brief Description

Common tall bushy shrub with bright red twigs bearing wavy yellow-green leaves. Leaves 3-6cm long, with an undulating edge. Flowers small, in clusters. Fruit almost black.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Suttonia australis Richard, Myrsine urvillei A.DC., Rapanea australis (Richard) W.R.B.Oliv.


Endemic. Three Kings, North, South and Stewart Islands.


Common tree of regenerating and mature forest in coastal to montane situations. Often common on northern offshore islands.


Shrub or small tree up 6 m tall. Trunk stout, 0.2-0.6 m diam. Bark dark black or purple-black, red on younger branches. Branchlets numerous erect to spreading, very leafy. Petioles stout, fleshy, 5 mm long, often red or green mottled red. Leaves 30-60 x 15-25 mm, dark green to yellow-green variously mottled or blotched with red, or purple spots, leathery, glabrous except for finely pubescent mid vein, obovate-oblong to broad-elliptic, apex obtuse, margins entire, strongly undulate, rarely flat. Inflorescence a fascicle, usually numerous and crowded, produced along branchlets and in leaf axils. Fixed female and inconstant male flowers on different plants, 1.5-2.5 mm diam., white, cream or pale green. Pedicels short, stout, dark red or purple-black. Calyx-lobes 4, sometimes heavily reduced, long persistent. Petals 4, lanceolate, obtuse, free, revolute. Fruit a 1-seeded drupe, 2-3 mm diam., purple-black to black when mature.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from all other New Zealand Myrsine by the small, purple/wine-red blotched or spotted, strongly undulating obovate-oblong to broad-elliptic leaves.


August - January

Flower Colours



September - May

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed. Can be grown from semi-hardwood cuttings but tricky. Best results are obtained using a mist unit.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 46

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally cultivated. Easily grown in a wide range of habitats, making an ideal hedge or small specimen tree. Sometimes available from mainline commercial nurseries, and commonly sold by specialist native plant nurseries.

Keystone Importance

One of three known hosts for Adams mistletoe (Trilepidea adamsii).

Fact Sheet Citation

Please cite as:  de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of Access): Myrsine australis Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=1007 (Date website was queried)


Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by: P.J. de Lange 28 October 2009. Description based on Allan (1961)

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Wellington, Government Printer.

This page last updated on 6 Nov 2019