Coprosma tenuicaulis


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

Common Name(s)

swamp Coprosma, hukihuki

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 tenuicaulis Hook.f.



Brief Description

Erect bushy shrub with long thin twigs bearing pairs of thin rounded leaves on short flattened leaf stalks inhabiting wetland sites. Leaves mottled, 8-13mm long. Small tuft of longer hairs on hairy stem between leaf bases (sometimes a small dark tooth also present). Skin of fruit dark reddish-black to black, flesh dark purple.

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 tenuicaulis var. major Cheeseman


Endemic. North and South Islands from Kaitaia to about Okarito


Lowland (rarely montane) in swamps and boggy ground, poorly drained shrubland and riparian forest.


Shrub up to c.3 m tall; branches slender, filiramulate, subdivaricate, usually interlacing; branchlets slender, pubescent. Leaves on more or less winged, slender, pubescent petioles 3-5 mm long. Stipules small, triangular, subacute, more or less pubescent, ciliate, terminal tuft consipicuous. Lamina subcoricaeous, glabrous, orbicular-ovate, spathulate, obtuse, minutely apiculate, more or less 8-13 × 8-10 mm. Reticulations of veins evident on both surfaces. Male flowers in fascicles of 3-6; calyx 0; corolla funnelform, lobes more or less = tube, ovate, acute. Female flower solitary or in axillary clusters of 2-4 along short branchlets; calyx-teeth minute; corolla funnelform, lobes ovate, acute, = or > tube. Drupe black, globose, 3-4 mm diameter.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised by the filiramulate, subdivaricating growth habit, and leaves which have darker margins and a lighter pigmented central blotch on the upper leaf surface. It is perhaps most likely to be confused with Coprosma virescens which has a superficially similar leaf shape but differs by its preference for better drained soils, greenish trunk, smaller leaves (5-9 x 3-6 mm cf. 8-13 x 9-10 mm in C. tenuicaulis), glabrous to glabrescent rather than pubescent branchlets, and yellowish-white, oblong rather than dark reddish-black to black, globose drupes


July - October


March - May

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed and semi-hardwood cuttings. An attractive shrub to small tree that does well in dappled light. Although it flourishes in swamps it is easily grown in poorly draining or free draining soils, in full sun or partial shade.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 44

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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


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

References and further reading

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

Cheeseman, T.F. 1885. Description of three new species of Coprosma. Transactions of the Royal Society, 18: 315-317

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 4 May 2016