Coprosma: from the Greek kopros 'dung' and osme 'smell', referring to the foul smell of the species, literally 'dung smell'
repens: from Latin repere meaning to creep, means creeping
taupata, looking glass plant, mirror plant
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
Coprosma repens A.Rich.
Common low-growing shrub or small tree bearing pairs of green very shiny dark green leaves inhabiting the edge of coastal forests and seaside rocks. Leaves 6-8cm long, leathery, with small pits at junction of veins. Fruit orange.
Vascular - Native
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.
Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs
C. retusa Hook.f.; C. baueriana Hook.f.; C. baueri auct. non Endl.; C. stockii Williams, Choice, Stove et Greenh.
Endemic. Three Kings, North and South Islands as far south as Greymouth in the west and Rarangi in the east but now extensively naturalised throughout the South Island, Stewart and Chatham Islands. Also naturalised on Norfolk Island and in Hawaii, in Australia, California and South Africa.
Coastal (rarely inland: Kaitaia – Awanui River, Huntly Basin and in the Manawatu – especially the upper Rangitikei River). A common species of rock stacks, islets, islands coastal cliffs, talus slopes and boulder field. Also a common component of petrel scrub on northern offshore islands, and in coastal forest where it often forms the main understorey and rarely is co-dominant in the canopy. Frequently associated with other coastal Coprosma, especially C. crassifolia, C. macrocarpa subsp. macrocarpa and subsp. minor, C. rhamnoides, C. neglecta, and members of the C. acerosa complex. Hybrids between C. repens and C. acerosa are common and are known as C. xkirkii, less frequently hybrids between it and C. crassifolia are found (C. xbuchananii) and with both C. rhamnoides and C. neglecta.
Dioecious (rarely monoecious) shrub or small tree up to 8 m tall, prostrate and widely spreading in exposed sites, shrubb to arborescent in more sheltered situations; branches firm and more or less pliant when young becoming more brittle with age, bark dark to light brown, underbark green; branchlets initially pubescent with short patent hairs, becoming glabrous with age. Leaves on fleshy glabrous, slender to stout petioles 8-16 mm long. Stipule shortly sheathing, margin finely pubescent, otherwise outer surface pubescent, inner more or less glabrous, broad-deltoid, subacute to subtruncate; denticles up to 4 either side of a single large, dark black apical denticle, conspicuous, central one prominent. Lamina thick, subfleshy, coriaceous, 5-90 × 4-60 mm, dark glossy green above, paler and dull below; broad-oblong, elliptic-oblong, broadly ovate-oblong to suborbicular, rounded to truncate, usually apiculate (slightly emarginate to retuse on Three Kings and northern Hauraki Gulf Islands), apiculus caducous, cuneately narrowed to base; margins plane to slightly recurved (very occasionally inrolled). Vein reticulations evident above and especially below. Flowers in compound clusters on branched peduncles. Male flowers 3-20 per cluster; calyx-teeth minute; corolla funnelform, lobes 4-5, acute, about = tube. Female flowers usually 3 per cluster; calyx-teeth short, obtuse; corolla subfunnelform, c.5 mm long, lobes acute or obtuse, < tube; stigmas stout (Perfect flowers occasional (though with pollen often aborted or malformed) through out range but especially common on the northern offshore islands). Drupe orange-red, red (rarely yellow), obovoid often slightly compressed, 8-12 × 8-10 mm
A distinctive species easily recognised by the very glossy, dark green, broadly oblong to suborbicular (round) leaves. It is only likely to be confused with C. baueri (a Norfolk Island endemic extremely rarely cultivated in New Zealand) and C. petiolata (a Kermadec endemic rarely cultivated in New Zealand). For distinctions between it and C. petiolata see C. petiolata.
June - February
July - June
Easily grown from fresh seed, semi-hardwood cuttings and layered pieces. Moderately frost-tender. An attractive species which is inclined to self-sow and times become weedy in cultivation. In some places of New Zealand where it is not natural it has become established from garden plantings and it now poses a threat to other indigenous Coprosma populations as well as local coastal vegetation associations.
2n = 44
Life Cycle and Dispersal
Fleshy drupes are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
A serious weed in many countries, e.g., Australia, Norfolk Island, South Africa, U.S.A. (California), Hawaii. Hybrids between this species and the Norfolk Island endemic C. baueri are now frequent on that island, and could possibly be responsible for its ultimate extinction from that island group.
Description based on Allan (1961) though supplemented with additional measurements and observations taken from herbarium specimens and wild plants.
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I, Government Printer, Wellington.
Dawson, J.W. 1961. Coprosma. The Spike (or Victoria University College Review). Victoria University of Wellington Student's Association.
Gordon, H.D. 1959. Sex ratio in Coprosma repens (rubiaceae). Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin, 31: 11
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 15 Aug 2014