Hedycarya arborea


Hedycarya: sweet-nutted
arborea: From the Latin arbor 'tree', meaning tree-like

Common Name(s)

Porokaiwhiri, Pigeonwood

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


Hedycarya arborea J.R.Forst. et G.Forst.



Brief Description

Common small tree. Leaves dark green, glossy, oval, with toothed margins, in pairs on short stalks from a flattened part of the dark twigs. Flowers simple, green, around 1cm wide, arranged in small sprays. Fruit orange, oval, about 1cm long.

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


Hedycarya dentata G.Forst.; Hedycarya scabra A.Cunn., Zanthoxylum novae-zelandiae A.Rich.


Endemic. Three Kings, North and South Islands. In the South island uncommon in the east south of Kaikoura reaching its southern limit on that coastline on Banks Peninsula, iit is more ranging in the west reaching northern Fiordland at least.


A common forest tree of coastal and lowland forest, extending into montane areas in the warmer parts of the North Island


Tree up to 12 m. tall; trunk up to 0.5m dbh, clear of branches for first few metres, ; bark dark grey to brown-grey, firm (not flaking) finely tessellated. Branches numerous, upright to spreading; branchlets finely brown-pubescent at tips. Leaves coriaceous, glabrous except for midrib and main veins and petioles, adaxially dark green, glossy or glaucescent, abaxially similar but paler and dull; petioles 10-15-20(-35)mm long; lamina 40-120(-180) × 25-30(-50-60) mm, elliptic-obovate, oblanceolate to lanceolate, cuneately narrowed to base, obtuse to subacute or acute, margins distantly serrate (with occasional subentire leaves) or toothed. Inflorescence a branched raceme; peduncles and pedicels slender, pubescent. Male with perianth c.10 mm diameter, pubescent, stamens numerous, anthers sessile. Female with perianth c.6 mm diameter; carpels up to 20. Drupe 1-seeded, ovoid, 10-15(-16) mm long, red or orange-red up to 10 per branch. Endocarp 9-14 mm long, elliptic to obovate, rarely circular, brown to grey-brown, surface ± smooth, usually with a few irregular bumps and/or longitudinal ridges. Description adapted from Allan (1961) and Webb & Simpson (2001).

Similar Taxa

None. Plants from the Three Kings (Manawa Tawhi (Great) Island) and the Poor Knights are notable for their very large broad-elliptic to broad-obovate, distantly bluntly toothed leaves (see comments by Allan 1961). However, de Lange & Cameron (1999) noted that not all Hedycarya on the Poor Knights share these characteristics and that such large-leaved plants grade into "typical" H. arborea on the other Hauraki Gulf Islands. The situation seems similar to that observed for large-leaved forms of tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa) that some authors have segregated as a distinct species, B. tawaroa (see Wright 1984). Like B. tawaroa, these larger, broader leaved island forms of Hedycarya arborea, exhibit no other morphological or cytological distinctions (see de Lange & Murray 2002). Nevertheless they would repay further study


December - February

Flower Colours



March - June

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed. A quick growing tree ideal for the warmer parts of the North Island (though once established it will tolerate a reasonable amount of cold). The fruit is avidly sought after by kereru (Hemiphaga novaezelandiae).


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

n = 57II, 2n = 116, c.166

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Fleshy drupes are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).



Factsheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 20 February 2011. Description adapted from Allan (1961) and Webb & Simpson (2001).

References and further reading

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

de Lange, P.J.; Cameron, E.K. 1999: The Vascular Flora of Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands, Northern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37: 433-468.

de Lange, P.J.; Murray, B.G. 2002: Contributions to a chromosome atlas of the New Zealand flora – 37. Miscellaneous families. New Zealand Journal of Botany 40: 1-24.

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

Webb, C.J.; Simpson, M.J.A. 2001: Seeds of New Zealand Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Christchurch, Manuka Press.

Wright, A. E. 1984: Beilschmiedia Nees (Lauraceae) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 22: 109-125.


This page last updated on 9 Apr 2015