Coprosma acutifolia


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

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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 - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - CD, IE, OL
2009 - IE


Coprosma acutifolia Hook.f.



Brief Description

Bushy small tree with opposite pairs of wavy leaves inhabiting the Kermadec Islands. Leaves thin, with small pits at junction of veins, sharp-pointed, 6-7.5cm long, with a small long-tipped scale between the base of the leaf stems. Fruit orange, with black tip.

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


None (first described in 1856)


Endemic. Raoul Island (Kermadec Island group) only


Metrosideros-dominated forest - in both wet and dry associations. Ranging from almost sea level (where its distribution overlaps with Coprosma petiolata) to the highest point on the island (Moumoukai 520 m a.s.l.). A common understorey tree in dry and wet forest, becoming at times a moderately important canopy species along the summit ridges of Raoul.


Tree up to 12 m tall; branches ascending; branchlets slender, glabrous. Bark greenish-grey maturing grey, flaking in small rectangular tissue-thin shards. Leaves on slender petioles 5-7 mm long. Stipules membranous, sheathing, sub-acute; denticle prominent. Lamina membranous, glabrous, 60-90 × 20-35 mm, yellow-green, often mottled with dark green, narrow-ovate, ovate, ovate-elliptic to lanceolate, acuminate, tapering to petiole; margins undulose. Reticulated veins fine, evident. Male flowers 3-9 on slender axillary branched peduncles 10-15 mm long; calyx cupular, teeth 4-5, acute; corolla subfunnelform, lobes 5, acute, more or less = tube; stamens 4-5. Female flowers 3 in a cluster on branched axillary peduncles; calyx cupular, teeth triangular, usually 5; corolla tubular, lobes linear-triangular, < tube. Drupe orange-red, oblong, 7-8 mm long

Similar Taxa

The allopatric sister species of Coprosma acutifolia is the North Island endemic C. tenuifolia. This species differs from C. acutifolia by its smaller stature (up to 5 m cf. 12 m tall); by its larger ( 70-110 × 30-45 mm), ovate to oblong, acute, usually apiculate leaves which are coloured dull dark green, red-green or variously blotched, tinged or blemished with red, maroon or purple. The leaves of Coprosma acutifolia are 60-90 × 20-35 mm, yellow-green, often mottled with dark green, narrow-ovate, ovate, ovate-elliptic to lanceolate, acuminate. The peduncles of Coprosma tenuifolia are unbranched while those of C. acutifolia are pedicellate (branched). The fruits of Coprosma acutifolia are oblong and orange red rather than ovoid and orange. Both species hybridise readily when grown together in cultivation.


March - July

Flower Colours



September - January

Propagation Technique

Easy from semi-hard wood cuttings and fresh seed. Moderately frost-hardy. A very fast growing and attractive small tree, preferring a well drained, fertile soil. Does best planted in full sun in a warm frost-free situation. Hybridises readily when planted near other Coprosma species.


A local endemic abundant on Raoul Island

Chromosome No.

2n = 44

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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

Where To Buy

Occasionally offered by specialist native plant nurseries


Description adapted from Allan (1961)

References and further reading

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

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 22 Jun 2014