Pittosporum pimeleoides subsp. majus


Pittosporum: pitch seed
pimeleoides: like a pimelea

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 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - OL, Sp
2009 - CD, ST, OL


Pittosporum pimeleoides subsp. majus (Cheeseman) R.C.Cooper



Brief Description

Rare much-branched low-growing shrub with whorls of rounded leaves and red-striped yellow flowers and 6-12mm long capsules inhabiting the northern tip of the North Island. Leaves 9-30mm long by 4.5-13mm wide. Fruit splitting into two to show the black sticky seeds in orange pith.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Pittosporum michiei Allan; Pittosporum pimeleoides var. major Cheeseman, Pittosporum pimeleoides subsp. maius (Cheeseman) R.C.Cooper orthographic variant,


Endemic. North Island, Surville Cliffs and adjacent plateau.


An ultramafic endemic naturally confined to the 120 ha exposure of serpentinite at the North Cape/Surville Cliffs, Te Paki. In that habitat it is very common in low scrub and at the bases of talus slopes on the cliffs proper. It is also present on the plateau, where it is less common, presumably because of the once frequent fires that swept that area.


Much branched, gynodioecious, decumbent, prostrate, trailing and spreading gynodioecious shrub 0.1-0.6 m tall; confined to ultramafic substrates. Usually multi-trunked from the ground, branches and branchlets slender, wiry, pliant, spreading, arching and layering on contact with soil; coloured grey-brown; branchlets similar but at first densely clad in greyish-white to brown tomentum becoming glabrate with age. Leaves alternate, in distinct whorls (semi-verticillate). Petioles up to 5 mm long, hairy. Lamina 9-30 x 4.5-5(-13), pale green, red-green or dark green above, paler beneath, broadly elliptic, apex acuminate or obtuse, base attenuate, margins entire or finely crenulate, surfaces sparsely hairy with ciliolate margins when young, becoming glabrate, coriaceous. Flowers usually terminal, 4-12 fascicled. Pedicels 2-9 mm, filiform, puberulent, accrescent in fruit, subtended by a whorl of leaves and several 2-3 mm long, caducous, glabrous, ciliolate bud scales. Sepals 4.5-5 x 0.5-1 mm, linear, acuminate, glabrous. Petals 11-12 mm, yellow with a central or margin red stripe, rarely completely yellow or cream, linear, acuminate, fused in a tube to about half way, then spreading and reflexed. Stamens 2.5-6.5 mm, anthers 0.5-2 mm. Ovary 1-2 x 1-1.5 mm, villous, style 1.5-3.5 mm, Stigma capitate, 2-lobed or truncate. Capsules 2-valved, 6-12 x 4-6 mm, green at first brown when mature, ovoid, acuminate, coriaceous, initially covered in long grey hairs otherwise glabrate. Mucilage yellow to dark orange. Seeds 5-18, glossy black, of irregular shape.

Similar Taxa

Pittosporum pimeleoides subsp. pimeleoides, which is a highly variable plant with respect to leaf length and width. In its typical form it has narrowly lanceolate to linear-lanceolate leaves, an erect growth habit, and smaller flowers. However some forms may have broader leaves and a more spreading, semi-decumbent habit. These forms can be locally common in parts of eastern Northland, they differ from subsp. majus by their erect to semi-erect sprawling stems, somewhat longer leaves, and smaller flowers.


(May-) July - September

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,Yellow


Present throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from seed which germinates within 3-6 months of sowing. Also strikes well from semi-hardwood cuttings. Established plants can be easily layered. Despite its natural restriction to ultramafic rocks it grows well in any free draining soil. Prefers full sun. Should not be planted near P. pimeleoides subsp. pimeleoides because of the risk of hybridisation.


Not Threatened. However it is listed as Range Restricted because of the naturally small area it occupies at North Cape.

Chromosome No.

2n = 24

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Taxonomic Notes

Records of this subspecies occurring further south at the Whangaroa Harbour refer to a wide-leaved semi-erect, sometimes sprawling form of P. pimeleoides subsp. pimeleoides. This variant, locally common in some places around that harbour tends to form an erect bush with occasional sprawling branches in cultivation. It has flower dimensions typical of subsp. pimeleoides (which is a very variable entity).


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 30 August 2006. Description adapted from Cooper (1956).

References and further reading

Cooper, R.C. 1956: The Australian and New Zealand species of Pittosporum. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 43: 87-188

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014