Pseudowintera axillaris


Pseudowintera: false Wintera (a related genus)
axillaris: axilled

Common Name(s)

Lowland horopito, lowland pepper tree

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


Pseudowintera axillaris (J.R.Forst. et G.Forst.) Dandy



Brief Description

Pungent leaved small shrub with wavy shiny green leaves that are pale underneath

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


Drimys axillaris J.R.Forst. et G.Forst., Drimys axillaris J.R.Forst. et G.Forst. var. axillaris, Wintera axillaris G.Forst., Wintera terminalis Tiegh.


Endemic. North and South Islands. Scarce north of Auckland, extending to near Westport on the west of the South Island


Lowland to montane forest. From near sea level.


Shrub or small tree up to 7 m tall; trunks and branches upright; bark dark; branchlets dark. Plants glabrous. Petiole slender, 2 cm long, dark reddish brown. Leaves alternate, pungent, 6-10 x 3-6 cm, upper surface glossy, dark green to yellowish-green, without blemishes or blotches; midvein conspicuous, pale; lamina elliptic-oblong to elliptic-obovate to ovate-oblong to lanceolate rhomboid, margin undulate, obtuse to subacute, coriaceous; undersides pale to glaucous but not white; midvein pale. Inflorescences axillary, flowers bisexual, c. 1 cm diam., in fascicles of 1-5-(10), on slender pedicels 5-10 mm long. Calyx cupule margins sub-entire to shallowly lobed. Corolla comprised of 5-(6) free petals, these 5-6 mm long, narrow-oblong to narrow-obovate, grenish yellow, apex obtuse. Carpels 1-6, stigma apical. Stamens 6-20. Fruit a 3-6-seeded fleshyglobose to subglobose berry, 5-6 mm diam., orange to orange-red. Seed 3-angled, obovate to elliptic, 2.5-3.9 mm, surface irrregular (showing striping under very high magnification).

Similar Taxa

Similar to other Pseudowintera species from which it can be distinguished by leaf size and the absence of blotching and colour and non-white undersurface of the leaf



Flower Colours



October-January (some fruit may be retained until June)


Not Threatened. Unpalatable to browsers

Chromosome No.

2n = 86

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Notes on Taxonomy

The Winteraceae is one of the most primitive families of the flowering plants and flower parts are relatively un-specialised.



Description adapted from Allan (1961), Heenan et al. (2006) and Eagle (2006).

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand. Government Printer, Wellington

Heenan, P.B, de Lange, P.J. 2006. Pseudowintera insperata (Winteraceae), an overlooked and rare new species from northern New Zealand. NZ J. Botany 44: 89-98

Eagle, A. 2000. Eagle's complete trees and shrubs of NZ. Te Papa Press, Wellington; Webb, C.J. &  Simpson, M.J.A. 2001. Seeds of NZ gymnosperms and dicotyledons. Manuka Press, Christchurch.

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014