Hoheria populnea


Hoheria: Latin version of the Maori name houhere which refers to H. populnea and H. glabrata.
populnea: poplar-like

Common Name(s)

Lacebark, houhere, ribbonwood

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


Hoheria populnea A.Cunn.



Brief Description

Soft-wooded tree with a grey trunk bearing leathery toothed leaves and large white flowers that develop into a winged dry fruit inhabiting the northern North Island. Leaves 7-14cm long by 4-6cm wide, widest at base. Juvenile plants with zigzagging branches bearing leaves only 1-3cm long with deep gaps between teeth.

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


Hoheria sinclairii Hook.f., H. populnea subsp. vulgaris Kirk var. vulgaris, H. populnea subsp. vulgaris var. sinclairii (Hook.f.) Kirk, H. populnea var. crataegifolia Hook.f. (pro parte)


Endemic. North Island only from North Cape (Pararaki Stream) south to the northern Waikato and Coromandel. However widely planted and often found naturalising throughout the southern North Island, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands.


Coastal to montane usually in Kauri (Agathis australis) forest but also in successional forest associated with kauri. Also common in pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) dominated coastal forest.


Small upright to often spreading tree up to 8 m tall (rarely more); bark of mature trunk and branches dark grey-brown that of younger growth dark red-brown or maroon, branches and branchlets ascending, in some forms pendulous,pliant, slender, often deeply grooved, ± glabrescent, indumentum comprised of short stellate hairs, on mature parts sparse, on young parts and inflorescence sparse to dense. Juvenile foliage identical or nearly so to adult. Leaves subcoriaceous to coriaceous glossy, adaxially dark-green to yellow-green, sometimes with veins more darkly pigmented, abaxially often maroon or purple with darker coloured veins, sometimes green or glaucescent; petioles slender, pliant up to 10 mm long; lamina (5-)10(-30) mm long, broad-ovate to deltoid to suborbicular in outline, margins serrate, usually deeply so, coarsely lobed. Adult leaves similar, on petioles up to 20 mm long; lamina (50-)7(-180) mm × (30-)40(-60) mm, broad-ovate to ovate-lanceolate to elliptic, apex acuminate or acute, obtuse or rounded, base rounded to truncate (rarely subcordate); margins deeply, coarsely, sometimes doubly, serrate-dentate, teeth usually well spaced. Flowers 25-30 mm diameter, both solitary and in (2-)5-10-flowered cymose clusters on same plant; pedicels 8-10(-12) mm long; calyx campanulate, 5-6 mm long, teeth broadly to narrowly triangular; petals 10-12 mm long, white, obliquely oblong, oftenn notched.; stigmas capitate. Mature carpels 5(-6), compressed. Mericarp winged, main body 4.5-6.5 mm long, brown; wing 3.0-8.5 mm long, slightly curved outwards, orange yellow, finely and sparsely covered with stellate hairs. Description adapted from Allan (1961) and Webb & Simpson (2001).

Similar Taxa

Hoheria equitum endemic to the Poor Knights and Hen & Chicken Islands is similar. It differs by having distinctly coriaceous, uniformly light green, finely serrated to sub-entire leaves, and smaller flowers which tend to be obscured by the foliage. Hoheria sexstylosa is also often confused with H. populnea, from which it differs by its distinctive filiramulate juvenile growth habit, pendulous branches, and narrower, more finely serrated leaves. The flowers are also somewhat smaller but tend to have 6 rather than 5 carpels.


January - March

Flower Colours



April - June

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed, and often seedlings can be found in the vicinity of garden plants. Specimens tend to be short-lived and they often suffer from Hoheria Die back - a syndrome which kills portions of the tree and has no cure. An excellent fast-growing tree suitable as a wind break and as temporary shelter (because it is so short-lived. Numerous horticultural selections and cultivars are known


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 42

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Winged mericarps are dispersed by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Commonly sold at most garden centres. A form with purple stamens is known as cv. Osbournei, and comes originally from Great Barrier Island.

Notes on hybridisation

Hybridizes in the northern Waikato and Auckland areas where it naturally meets with H. sexstylosa. Hoheria populnea is widely planted, often inappropriately as part of restoration plantings, and freely naturalizes from these. In cultivation this species hybridizes readily with H. angustifolia, H. equitum, H. ovata and H. sexstylosa. Hoheria populnea is very variable species with well marked, and geographically defined races. This variation needs critical study. Indeed the genus as a whole is in serious need to a modern systematic revision.


Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 9 April 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.

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

Moorfield, J. C. (2005). Te aka : Maori-English, English-Maori dictionary and index.  Pearson Longman:  Auckland, N.Z.

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

This page last updated on 10 Apr 2015