Coprosma wallii


Coprosma: from the Greek kopros 'dung' and osme 'smell', referring to the foul smell of the species, literally 'dung smell'

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining

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 - Declining
2004 - Gradual Decline


2012 - CD, RF
2009 - CD, RF


Coprosma wallii Petrie



Brief Description

Bushy dark green shrub or small tree with orange under-bark and many very wide-angled branches bearing groups of pairs of small oval leaves and bulging purple fruit. Leaves 5-10mm long, nearly as wide as long, with a triangular hairy ridge on the fuzzy stem between leaf bases. Seeds nearly round.

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




Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands. In the North Island, rather local and with a predominantly eastern distribution from the Ripia River Headwaters to Wairarapa, with only two western populations at Erua and Paengaroa In in the South Island much more widespread in both the east and west (with new populations still being discovered mainly in the west and south). On Stewart Island, only recently (2000) discovered and still only known from one location.


Occupies a range of habitats from seasonally flooded, alluvial forest prone to very cold winters and dry summers, to riparian forest and subalpine scrub, or as a component of grey scrub or mixed Podocarp forest developed on steeply sloping basaltic or andesitic rock. The key feature of the majority of C. wallii habitat is that the substrates are rather fertile and the vegetation is limited by frost, water logging, or severe summer drought. Never associated with broad-leaved canopy trees.


Shrub to small tree (1.8-)2(-3) m. Trunk stout, clad in dark bubbly bark, under bark dark red. Branches stout, erect then spreading, somewhat pagodiform, branchlets stout, subtetragonous, densely clad in short, appressed, antrorse ruffous hairs. Petioles pubescent, c.1 mm. Seedling and juvenile leaves, rhomboid to ovate-oblong, densely clad in long, dark, rufous appressed hairs. Adult leaves leathery, glabrous, 5-9 x 5-7 mm, broad-ovate to suborbicular, broadly ovate-oblong, obtuse, subtruncate at base, dark green to green, upper surface very shiny, veins not evident, under sides paler, midrib and secondary veins evident. Flowers 1(-2-3) on short branchlets. Male without calyx, corolla short, broadly campanulate, lobes broad-ovate, acute. Female corolla funnelform, lobes triangular, acute, Drupe ovoid, didymous, 3 x 4.5 mm, dark violet black to black.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised through a combination of its tall shrub to small tree habit, dark red under bark, leafy branches bearing numerous rather dark green, shiny, small leaves, and by the dark violet-black strongly twinned (didymous) fruits.


No information


Fruit may be present throughout the year. However, they are most conspicuous between March and May

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed. Can be grown from semi-hardwood cuttings. Quite fast growing, doing best in fertile, moist alluvial soils but once established remarkably tolerant of a wide variety of soils and moisture regimes.


Although not as threatened as once believed, several North and South Island populations are in vulnerable habitats or persist as remnant stands within rough pasture and/or along roadsides. In these sites recruitment is limiting or absent. Weeds remain a long term threat at virtually all known habitats. As a somewhat cryptic plant it is also vulnerable through the failure to recognise it. Some populations on track sides and near popular scenic attractions have been damaged by track maintence and in one site the erection of a toilet block.

Chromosome No.

2n = 132

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Fleshy drupes are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2003. Description based on Allan (1961).

References and further reading

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

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 2 Jul 2014