Plagianthus regius subsp. chathamicus


Plagianthus: oblique or lop-sided flower (petals uneven at the base)
regius: royal
chathamicus: From the Chathams

Common Name(s)

Chatham Island ribbonwood

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Recovering

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 - At Risk - Recovering
2004 - Serious Decline


2012 - CD, IE
2009 - CD, IE


Plagianthus regius subsp. chathamicus (Cockayne) de Lange



Brief Description

Tall tree with soft jagged pointed leaves and long sprays of tiny yellowish flowers and small green fruit that fall as a unit inhabiting the Chatham Islands. Wood soft. No marked juvenile growth form. Leaves 3-7.5cm long, much wider at base.

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


Plagianthus chathamicus Cockayne; Plagianthus betulinus var. chathamicus (Cockayne) Cockayne


Endemic. Chatham Islands (Rekohu (Chatham), Rangiauria (Pitt), Mangere, Little Mangere and Rangatira (South East Island))


Found on free draining, fertile soils throughout the main islands. Often an important species on soils derived from limestone, and basalt. This tree avoids poorly drained soils and peat.


Elegant deciduous tree up to 15 m tall. Soft, heart-shaped, serrated, lime green leaves with soft hairs. Flowers greenish, plants dioecious. Fibrous bark that peels in lace-like strips. Flowers from October to February and fruits are produced from December to June.

Similar Taxa

Plagianthus regius subsp. regius is very similar. It is confined to the three main islands of New Zealand. This subspecies differs from P. regius subsp. chathamicus by the distinctive filiramulate, divaricating juvenile growth habit (absent in subsp. chathamicus).


October - February

Flower Colours



December - June

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed. A very fast growing tree ideal for providing quick cover. Does best on free draining, but moist and fertile soils in full sun but can tolerate some shade.


Sheep, cattle and horses browse foliage and seedlings, preventing regeneration. Cattle strip bark, which can kill even large trees. Pigs root up seedlings and saplings and may browse them as well. Possums browse foliage, flowers and seedlings. Land clearance for farming and fire pose additional threats.

Chromosome No.

2n = 42

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family





Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2003.

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J. 2008: Plagianthus regius subsp. chathamicus (Malvaceae) - a new combination for the Chatham Islands endemic tree. New Zealand Journal of Botany 46: 381-386.

This page last updated on 19 Dec 2014