Olearia gardneri


Olearia: Derived from the latinised name (Olearius) of the 17th century German botanist Adam Oelenschlager
gardneri: Commemorating the New Zealand botanist Rhys O. Gardner (1949-)

Common Name(s)

Deciduous tree daisy

Current Conservation Status

2018 - Threatened - Nationally Endangered

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

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
2009 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Critical


2012 - CD, RF
2009 - CD, RF


Olearia gardneri Heads



Brief Description

Rare small-leaved shrub with wide-angled, reddish, round stems with a prominent raised ridge on opposite sides; stems bearing clusters of thin leaves; inhabiting river valleys of the southern North Island. Leaves 10-15mm long by 7-10mm wide, oval. Flowers small, white, in small groups at base of leaves.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs




Endemic. North Island. Formerly known from the Hawkes Bay, southern Central North Island (near Taihape) and Wairarapa. Now only known from the upper Turakina Valley, the vicinity of Mataroa near Taihape and from widely scattered sites in the eastern Wairarapa; in 2014 a new population was found east of Masterton, comprising more shrubs (some 400) than all other known populations combined.


The exact habitat preferences of this species are unclear. The majority of plants have been gathered from Matai/Totara/Kahikatea forest remnants on alluvial terraces, developed on calcareous siltstones. In these habitats O. gardneri is associated with the dense shrub tier dominated by numerous divaricating shrubs and trees, which is common to this forest type in the drier eastern North Island. Plants often grow adjacent semi-permanent water pools or in sites flooded in winter.


Deciduous shrub or small tree up to 3 m tall; stems often layering. Bark greyish–white, rough, grooved. Branchlets with 2 flanges, slender, dark reddish brown. Leaves of seedlings broadly deltoid, margins with 3–4 prominent teeth. Leaves of adults opposite or in fascicles of 2–4 on brachyblasts, spathulate, petioles 5–10 mm long mm; lamina 10–35 × 7–17 mm, broadly ovate-elliptic, light green above, more or less glabrous below with a few scattered long and silky hairs but no tomentum, margin entire, apex obtuse and apiculate. Inflorescence solitary or in fascicles of 2–6 capitula on brachyblasts, capitula c. 5 × 4 mm, peduncles 6–10 mm long. Involucral bracts c. 16, obovate, glabrous, membranous, purple tinged, apex acute. Florets 10–19, white. Ray florets c. 9, 5 mm long, limb c. 1 mm long. Disc florets c. 10, 6 mm long, lower half of corolla tube with very short, rather glandular hairs. Achenes 1–2 mm long, narrow–obovate, with short patent or slightly antrorse hairs; pappus hairs 2–3 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Olearia gardneri is allied to the South Island O. hectorii Hook.f. From that species it differs by the broadly deltoid, truncate, rather than oblanceolate juvenile leaves, by the smaller, distinctly less hairy adult leaves, white rather than yellow flowers, and narrowly lanceolate, toothed, finely hairy phyllaries (bracts surrounding the flowers). The phyllary hairs are long and wavy.


October - December

Flower Colours



February - April

Propagation Technique

Can be grown from fresh seed when available. Hardwood cuttings will strike if taken after leaf fall and placed within a cold frame.


Approx 110 adult specimens left in the wild. The majority occur on unprotected land next to a reserve near Taihape. Most other sites are single plants, often in ill-thrift and/or growing in severely deteriorated habitats. This species remains acutely threatened through recruitment failure (the seed cannot germinate through the dense grass swards which now surround most trees), the ill-thrift and presumed old-age of many of the surviving trees. Indications are that seed produced by many trees has very low viability, and there are concerns that the species may have a high level of self-incompatibility. This will seriously impact on current management practices which involve harvesting seed from the wild, germinating plants, and planting these back directly under their parent tree(s).

Chromosome No.

2n = 108

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



Numerous specimens grow in the grounds of the Masterton Area Office, Wellington Conservancy, New Zealand Department of Conservation, and at Mt Bruce National Wildlfie Centre.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 July 2007. Description by P.B. Heenan and P.J. de Lange subsequently published in de Lange et al. (2010); revisions and additions C. Ogle 2018, mainly to note the 2014 find of a new, relatively large population near Masterton

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J.; Heenan, P.B.; Norton, D.A.; Rolfe, J.R.; Sawyer, J.W.D. 2010: Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch.

Heads, M. 1998. Biodiversity in the New Zealand divaricating tree daisies: Olearia sect. nov. (Compositae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 127(3): 239-285.

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2018