Coprosma rubra


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

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 - Data Deficient
2004 - Not Threatened


Coprosma rubra Petrie



Brief Description

Rare small bushy small-leaved wide-angled shrub with reddish bark and fuzzy twigs. Leaves thin, usually 10-15mm long but up to 2.5cm long, gradually narrowing to a winged stalk that has tiny hairs (lens needed), small black tip on stem between leaf bases, leaf margin sometimes hairy. Fruit yellowish white.

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


Coprosma rubra var. pendula (Colenso) Kirk


Endemic. North and South Islands: Mostly eastern. Sporadic in Northland around the upper Wairoa River and Pipwai, more common from the Hawkes Bay and Taihape south but often absent or very uncommon over large parts of its range


Lowland to montane. Usually in riparian forest and shrubland, especially on alluvial soils or those derived from calcareous parent materials.


Shrub up to 4 m tall; branches rather slender, filiramulate, weakly divaricating. Bark reddish brown; branchlets finely pubescent. Leaves membranous; petioles 4-6 mm. long more or less pubescent-ciliolate, winged. Stipules small, triangular, pubescent, usually terminated by single denticle. Lamina glabrous or nearly so, broad-ovate to oblong, obtuse, sometimes mucronulate, narrowed to subtruncate base; 10-25 × 6-15 mm; margins sometimes ciliolate. Reticulations usually evident on both surfaces, at least when leaf fresh. Male flowers 6-1 on short branchlets; calyx 0; corolla funnelform, lobes about = tube, ovate, acute. Female flowers solitary or 2-3 together on short branchlets; calyx-teeth linear-triangular, obtuse, c.¾ length of corolla-tube, corolla lobes > tube, narrow-linear. Drupe yellowish white, oblong, 4-6 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Coprosma rubra is superficially similar to and most often confused with C. rotundifolia. Coprosma rubra differs from the much more widespread C. rotunidfolia by its smaller leaves (10-18 x 6-13 mm cf. 15-25 x 10-20 mm in C. rotundifolia, female flowers whose calyces have conspicuous linear rather than inconspicuous minute teeth, and oblong, yellowish-white to white rather than red or white globose drupes. Both species may be found growing together.


September - January

Flower Colours



February - August

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed and semi-hardwood cuttings. An attractive shrub to small tree that does well in dappled light. Should be planted in a free draining but moist, fertile soil.


Listed as Data Deficient because in some parts of its range it appears to be in decline and in other areas it is extremely uncommon. However, this species is also common in many parts of the country and it is likely that with further survey it will be removed from the next revision of the New Zealand Threatened and Uncommon Plant Lists

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

Not commercially available


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 18 Nov 2014