Kunzea toelkenii


Kunzea: Named after Gustav Kunze (4 October 1793, Leipzig -30 April 1851), 19th century German botanist from Leipzig who was a German professor of zoology, an entomologist with an interest mainly in ferns and orchids
toelkenii: The epithet 'toelkenii' honors Australian botanist Hellmut R. Toelken (1939–) whose preliminary investigation of the Kunzea ericoides complex established that the species was a New Zealand endemic and worthy of further taxonomic segregation.

Common Name(s)

Bay of Plenty kanuka

Current Conservation Status

2018 - Threatened - Nationally Critical

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

2013 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable


Kunzea toelkenii de Lange



Brief Description

Shrubs of small trees of active sand country; bearing numerous trunks, these much-twisted; base of trunks often sucking, suckering growth trailing. Branches often pendulous, very leafy, bearing clusters of small white flowers. Branchlet hairs in mixtures on long appressed and short erect. Leaves 2.6–8.5 × 0.6–2.5 mm. Flowers borne in 'corymbiform' clusters, white with a red centre - late season flowers often male. Fruit a small dry capsule 2.1–3.0 × 2.5–3.7 mm.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


None - first described in 2014


Endemic. New Zealand: North Island - Bay of Plenty near Thornton and in islands of the Ohiwa Harbour (formerly from Papamoa to Thornton and Ohiwa Harbour)


Active sand dunes.


Shrubs up to 4 × 6 m; ‘juveniles’ usually prostrate and trailing up to 4 m diam., often flowering, eventually developing several, central, ascending branches; ‘adults’ forming widely spreading (up to 2 m diam.), flat-topped shrubs, with pendulous branches and branchlets; trunk bases usually bearing epicormic, prostrate growth spreading up to 4 m diam. Trunk 1–10, ascending to suberect, highly contorted, twisted, bent, and spiralled, 0.10–0.40 m d.b.h.; mostly arising from the top of a broad rootstock. Bark coriaceous, grey or grey-brown, ± elongate, cracking into highly irregular pieces with rather sinuous margins; detaching inwards. Branches numerous, widely spreading, ± serpentine, flexuose, pendulous and interwoven; branchlets numerous, slender, pendulous, leafy; those of epicormic growth, straight, prostrate or pendulous if arising from basal half of trunk,; indumentum copious; hairs of two types: long, appressed, flexuose to 0.26 mm long, and smaller divergent hairs, with curled and spiralled apices 0.04–0.18 mm . Leaves with lamina 2.6–8.5 × 0.6–2.5 mm, dark glossy green or bright-green, obovate, clavate, to broadly oblanceolate; apex sharply acute to apiculate, base attenuate; glabrous; lamina margin finely to densely sericeous, hairs weakly flexuose, to 0.5 mm long, aligned in 1–2 uninterrupted rows meeting just short of leaf apiculus. Inflorescence 1–10-flowered corymbiform botryum up to 40 mm long; inflorescences at the ultimate branchlet terminus uncommon (except in trailing epicormic growth), these elongated (up to 80 mm long) bearing well developed terminal vegetative growth, often with the uppermost flowers male. Pherophylls deciduous, initially foliose, soon squamiform, 0.4–1.6 mm long, foliose pherophylls green to bronze-green, shortly lanceolate to obovate, squamiform pherophylls amber-brown to brown, narrowly deltoid to ovate. Pedicels 1.6–3.8 mm long copiously invested with short, divergent to subantrorse, silky hairs. Flower buds bluntly clavate to obconic, rarely pyriform, apex flat prior to bud burst with calyx valves not meeting. Flowers 3.6–9.0 mm diam., often functionally male toward end of flowering season. Hypanthium 1.7–3.2 × 2.8–4.3 mm, green, dark green or red-green; obconic to funneliform, bearing five persistent calyx lobes; surface smooth, finely and rather densely puberulent; hairs silky. Calyx lobes 5, upright, 0.8–1.2 × 0.7–1.2 mm, persistent, ovate, broadly ovate to ovate-deltoid, glabrous except for ciliate margins. Receptacle pink at anthesis, darkening dark magenta or maroon-black at fertilisation. Petals 5–6, 1.5–2.8 × 1.5–2.6 mm, white, orbicular to very broadly ovate, apex obtuse to rotund, margins ± entire, oil glands colourless. Stamens 20–50 in 1–3 weakly defined whorls, filaments white. Anthers dorsifixed, 0.06–0.09 × 0.05–0.08 mm, testicular-oval to testicular-ellipsoid, latrorse. Pollen white. Anther connective gland prominent, pale lemon to pink when fresh, drying yellow to pale orange, spheroidal, finely papillate. Ovary absent in males flowers, 3–5 locular, each with 12–24 ovules in two rows on each placental lobe. Style absent in male flowers, 1.0–1.8 mm long, white; stigma capitate, scarcely wider than style, flat, greenish-white, cream or pale pink, surface papillate. Fruits 2.1–3.0 × 2.5–3.7 mm, light brown to grey, obconic, broadly obconic, to cupular. Seeds 0.50–1.02 × 0.52–0.68 mm, oblong, oblong-obovate, testa semi-glossy, amber, orange-brown to brown, surface coarsely reticulate.

Similar Taxa

Kunzea toelkenii is recognised by its uniquely suberect, sprawling growth habit, typically extensive suckering, by its mixed branchlet hairs, tendency to produce late season functionally male flowers, and also by its restriction to active sand dunes. Further differences are given by de Lange (2014)..


September - November

Flower Colours



October - September

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed. Can also be grown - with difficulty - from semi-hardwood and hardwood cuttings. Like all New Zealand Kunzea, this species prefers an open site, in full sun, plante din well drained soil.


As Kunzea aff. ericoides (a) (AK 255350; Thornton) Kunzea toelkenii is listed by the New Zealand Threatened Vascular Plant Panel (de Lange et al. 2013b) as ‘Acutely Threatened/Nationally Vulnerable’, qualified ‘Range Restricted (RR)’. For a detailed assessment pof this listing see de Lange (2014).

Chromosome No.

2n - 22

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



de Lange (2014) attributed the discovery of Kunzea toelkenii incorrectly - the species was first recognised as potentially distinct by Beadel (1985, 1987).


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 25 August 2014. Description modified from de Lange (2014).

References and further reading

Beadel S.M. 1985:  The vegetation of the Coastal Reserves between Golf Links Road (Rangitaiki Plains) and Otaramakau, Whakatane District.  Prepared for D.J. Shaw Associates, Resource Management, Research, Planning Consultants, Rotorua.  25 pp. 

Beadel S.M. 1987:  An account of some sand dune communities of the eastern Bay of Plenty.  Rotorua Botanical Society Newsletter No. 11:  29-39.

de Lange, P.J.; Rolfe, J.R.; Champion, P.D.; Courtney, S.P.; Heenan, P.B.; Barkla, J.W.; Cameron, E.K.; Norton, D.A.; Hitchmough, R.A. 2013: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 3. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

de Lange, P.J. 2014: A revision of the New Zealand Kunzea ericoides (Myrtaceae) complex. Phytokeys 40: 185p doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.40.7973.

This page last updated on 1 Sep 2014