Dysoxylum spectabile


Dysoxylum: foetid-smelling wood
spectabile: showy

Common Name(s)

kohekohe, New Zealand mahogany

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


Dysoxylum spectabile (G.Forst.) Hook.f.



Brief Description

Canopy tree bearing leaves with 4 pairs of large dark green glossy leaflets along a stem with fifth leaflet at the tip and a swollen base where leaf stem joins the twig. Inhabiting warmer forests. Flowers small, in sprays projecting from trunk and branches. Fruit orange, covered by a husk.

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


Trichilla spectabilis G.Forst., Hartighsea spectabilis Juss.


Endemic. North and South Islands. In the South Island not extending much beyond the Marlborough Sounds, reaching a southern limit near the Hurunui River (Napenape).


Common and sometimes dominant or co-dominant tree of coastal to lowland forest.


Tree up to 15 m tall usually with abroad, spreading canopy. Trunk up to 1 m diam., branches stout, erect then spreading. Bark pale brown, under bark green. Leaves compound, imparipinnate, alternate on pulvinate petioles up to 40 mm long, leaflet pairs 4-6, (50-)-150(-200) x (20-)30(-80) mm, opposite to subopposite, bright green, yellow-green to dark green, ovate to obovate-oblong, leathery, margins somewhat undulate. Plants gynodioecious, with fixed female and inconstant males on different trees. Inflorescence a cymose, drooping, panicle arising from trunk and branches (cauliflorous). Flowers c. 30 mm diam., fleshy. Pedicels short. Calyx divided to base, lobes broad-oblong, abruptly pointed, ciliate, petals linear, 10 mm, spreading, waxy white or greenish. Capsules, woody, broad-obovoid to subglobose, 3-4-celled, c. 25 mm long, green. Seeds 2 per cell, orange or scarlet.

Similar Taxa

A very distinctive tree which with its large compound green leaves and cauliflorous flowering habit could not easily be confused with any other indigenous, naturalised or exotic species present in New Zealand.


March - June

Flower Colours



April - August

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed.


Not Threatened. However, where possum and rat numbers are high this species is not actively regenerating. Possums defoliolate trees, and will heavily browse inflorescences such that few succeed in flowering and setting fruit. Rats are major seed predators. Only where control of these animals is undertaken, or on possum and rodent-free offshore islands can one see kohekohe flowering, fruiting and regenerating freely. If numbers of these introduced animals remain unchecked, it is clear that kohekohe will decline and vanish from large parts of its natural range.

Chromosome No.

2n = 84

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Arillate seeds are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).


Easily grown in a variety of situations and moisture levels. Intolerant of cold, and frost-sensitive.

Where To Buy

Occasional available from specialist native plant, and some mainline commercial nurseries.

Additional notes

The name of Pukekohe, a town south of Auckland, is an abbreviation of “Puke kohekohe” which means “Hill of the kohekohe”.

References and further reading

Duguid, F. 1985. Kohekohe Dysoxylum spectabile as an accidental epiphyte. Wellington Botanical Society Bulleton, 42: 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 10 Mar 2015