Quintinia serrata


Quintinia: Named after the 17th century French horticulturist Jean (Johannis) de la Quintinie (Quintinye)
serrata: saw-toothed

Common Name(s)

Tawheowheo, quintinia

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


Quintinia serrata A.Cunn.



Brief Description

Tree with spotted twigs bearing wavy purple-spotted leaves and spikes of small whiteish flowers which develop into a dry capsule. Twigs with circular scales (lens needed). Leaves 20-160mm long by 10-50mm wide, margin smooth or with scattered teeth, edge wavy.

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


Quintinia acutifolia Kirk, Quintinia elliptica Hook.f.


Endemic. New Zealand: North and South Islands (from about Kaitaia south to Wellington; in the South Island mostly westerly in the South Island to about Martins Bay)


Coastal to montane usually in forest, in the northern part of its range often confined to cooler valley heads and ridge lines or prominent on the summits of major ranges and peaks (in so called "cloud forest"). In the southern part of its range extending into coastal forest where it may form a major part of the forest understorey and/or canopy in disturbed sites


Small tree up to 12 m tall; trunk up to 500 mm d.b.h. Bark greyish-white to grey-brown, often mottled and covered with small lichens, mosses and liverworts. branches ascending. Young branchlets, leaves, peduncles and pedicels ± viscid and invested with lepidote ± scurfy scales. Leaves alternate, exstipulate, yellow-green to dark green usually blotched dark maroon sometimes not, borne on petioles up to 20 mm long; lamina 20-160 × 10-50 mm, narrowly lanceolate, oblanceolate, narrowly oblong, elliptic, broadly elliptic-obovate to obovate-cuneate, apex obtuse, subacute to acute, margins weakly to strongly undulose or flat, obscurely to distinctly serrate, or entire (if serrate then serration apices distinctly glandular). Inflorescences racemose, axillary or terminal. Racemes 35-80 mm long, pedicels c.3-4 mm long; Flowers gynodioecious, 3-7 mm diameter, calyx tube adnate to ovary, lobes persistent; petals 1.5-3·5 mm long, white to whitish-pink, obovate-oblong, narrow ovate to ovate-oblong, imbricate; female flowers with 5 rudimentary stamen (often reduced to staminodes, sometimes completely absent); ovary 3-5-celled, style persistent; stigmas capitate, 3-5-lobed; hermaphrodite flowers similar but with 5 functional stamens and functional gynoecium. Capsules 3-5-valved, 4-6 mm long, including style, obovoid, ellipsoid or oblong. Seeds 1.3-2.0 mm long, narrowly ovate, elliptic, ovate-elliptic to oblong, compressed, surface glabrous, finely reticulate with elongated cells, orange-brown to brown.

Similar Taxa

None. The distinctive maroon mottled yellowish green leaves, scurfy, lepidote scales covering the young branchlets, leaves, peduncles and pedicels, and white to pinkish-white flowers borne in racemes readily distinguish Quintinia from any other New Zealand indigenous tree.


September - March

Flower Colours



November - June

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Best grown from fresh seed although results vary. Does well in a shaded or semi-shaded situation planted in a deep, moist, fertile soil. Plants are prone to sudden collapse, especially during periods of drought. However, as with seed germination results vary and some people find cultivation of Quintinia easy, others not.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 44

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally offered by specialist native plant nurseries.

Taxonomic Notes

Quintinia is extremely variable and some extremes have been known by the species names Q. acutifolia and Q. elliptica. In this Fact Sheet the view expressed by Eagle (1982, 2006) and Dawson & Lucas (2011) is followed, in that one species, Q. serrata is accepted. However, a proper study of the variation in Quintinia is still needed to confirm that there is indeed just the one species. The main distinguishing character between the three species accepted by Allan (1961) leaf shape, varies sometimes within populations but definitely from north to south and east to west, suggesting the three species are part of a natural cline. Interestingly Webb & Simpson (2001) maintain two species (Q. acutifolia and Q. serrata) on the basis of minor differences in seed size; they do not accept Q. elliptica which they consider indistinguishable from Q. acutifolia.


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange January 2012. Description adapted from Allan (1961), Dawson & Lucas (2011) and Webb & Simpson (2001).

References and further reading

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

Dawson, J.; Lucas, R. 2011: New Zealand's Native Trees. Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson.

Eagle, A.L. 1982: Eagle's trees and shrubs of New Zealand, second series. Collins, Auckland.

Eagle, A.L. 2006: Eagle's complete trees and shrubs of New Zealand. Te Papa Press, Wellington.

Webb, C.J.; Simpson, M.J.A. 2001: Seeds of New Zealand Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Manuka Press, Christchurch.

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014