Dracophyllum: dragon leaf, from its likeness to the dragon tree of the Canary Islands
latifolium: broad leaf
Neinei, needle-leaved neinei, spider wood
Dracophyllum latifolium A.Cunn.
Vascular - Native
Dracophyllum latifolium var. matthewsii Carse' Dracophyllum matthewsii (Carse) Carse
Endemic. New Zealand: North Island
Lowland to subalpine. Often in kauri (Agathis australis) forest in the northern part of its range, where it grows on gentle to steep slopes in river valleys, along stream banks. South of Auckland it becomes more common in montane areas, where it is often common on mountain slopes and ridgelines extending into cloud forest and subalpine scrub. In some of these habitats it grows with Dracophyllum traversii.
Tree 3–10 m tall. Branches form an open candelabrum–shaped crown. Bark on old branches greyish–brown to brown, rough or flaky, young stems yellowish brown. Leaves crowded at tips of branches in a bromelioid manner; lamina sheath 30–65 × 18–55 mm, striate, membranous, tapering and margin smooth; lamina linear–triangular to rarely lanceolate, 100–800 × 12–30 mm, surfaces glabrous, prominently striated; margins serrate to denticulate with 2–4 teeth per 10 mm; apex thickened. Inflorescence shorter than leaves, erect to drooping, dense, 100–400 mm long, oblong to pyramidal and densely branched; rachis and pedicels pubescent to tomentose; inflorescence axis yellowish to light green, 15–20 mm in diameter; basal inflorescence branch 30–60 mm long, sub erect to at right angles with inflorescence axis; inflorescence bracts caducous, over topping flowers, whitish at base and pink tipped, broadly ovate to
ovate–triangular at base, 105–210 × 20–35 mm, surfaces glabrous, margins ciliate, apices acute. Flowers 600–2000+, in groups of 5–10 at base of inflorescence, pedicellate; bracteoles caducous, recaulescent, with one bracteole situated just below the perianth and the other in the middle of the pedicel, shorter than flower, 1.5–5.5 × 0.5–1.7 mm, glabrous; pedicels straight, 1.0–2.5 mm long, pubescent to tomentose. Sepals broadly ovate to triangular, 0.7–1.5 × 1.0–1.7 mm, shorter than the corolla tube, striate, adaxial surfaces glabrous; abaxial surfaces pubescent; margins with upper third toothed. Corolla dark pink to dark red; corolla tube campanulate to broadly campanulate, widened at mouth, 1.5–2.0 ×1.5–2.5 mm; corolla lobes reflexed, oblong to ovate–triangular, longer than corolla tube, 1.5–2.0 long and wide, apices obtuse, rarely subacute; surfaces glabrous.Stamens inserted at top of corolla tube, filaments (0.5–)1.0–1.2 mm long; anthers exserted, rectangular, pink turning light yellow with age and 1.3–1.5 mm long. Ovary ovate, 0.8– 1.0 × 1.0–1.5 mm, glabrous, apex round; nectary scales rectangular to oblong, 0.6–1.2 × 0.8–1.0 mm, apex retuse to irregularly toothed; style exserted, 1.0–1.7 mm long, glabrous; stigma clavate to five–lobed. Fruit not included in persistent calyx, reddish to purplish brown, 1–2 × 2–4 mm, depressed–globose, apex round and glabrous. Seeds yellowish brown, ovoid, 1.2–1.3 mm long, testa slightly reticulate.
Dracophyllum latifolium is recognised by the rough to flaky bark; leaves recurved in a bromelioid manner, glabrous, thinly textured; panicle slender, erect or drooping with the pubescent branches at acute angles, flowers purplish–red, capsules 2.0–2.5 mm in diameter with the pedicels 1.5–2.5 mm long. Young plants form erect unbranched stems with a tuft of leaves at the top, a character shared with D. fiordense, D. elegantissimum, D. townsonii, and D. traversii. Of these species Dracophyllum latifolium never grows with D. fiordense, D. elegantissimum, D. townsonii. It sometimes grows with D. traversii in the northern part of that species range. From that species it differs in having narrower leaves (12–30 mm compared to 40–50 mm), lamina margin serrate to denticulate (not serrulate) and having fewer teeth on the lamina margin (2–4 compared to 18–20 per 10 mm). The flowers are in groups of 5–10 (compared to more than 10), sepals shorter than the corolla tube longer with the upper half distinctly toothed not ciliate, corolla tube shorter and narrower, ovary ovate and much smaller with the seeds larger than that of D. traversii.
Main Flower Colour
Red / Pink
Throughout the year
Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild. Don't be tempted - take photographs instead! Dracophyllum latifolium is occasionally stocked by specialist nurseries (take care though to check the soil surrounding the rootstock to see if the plants on offer have been dug from the wild, as plants dug from the wild often persist for a few months before dying), and if grown from seed such plants may occasionally thrive in cultivation. Does best in a semi-shaded site, planted in a humus enriched, moist (not water logged) soil.
2n = 26
Where To Buy: Occasionally available from specialist native plant nurseries.
Venter, S. 2009: A taxonomic revision of the genus Dracophyllum Labill. (Ericaceae). Unpublished Phd Thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington.Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by:
P.J. de Lange (30 March 2012). Description adapted from Venter (2009)
This page last updated on 3 Apr 2012