Metrosideros umbellata


Metrosideros: iron heart
umbellata: bearing flowers in umbels

Common Name(s)

Southern rata

Current Conservation Status

2018 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable

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 - Not Threatened
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Metrosideros umbellata Cav.



Brief Description

Tall forest tree bearing pairs of oval leathery leaves with a and masses of red bristly flowers in summer inhabiting much of the South Island and some upland North Island sites. Twigs rounded in cross section. Leaves 2.5-6cm long by 1-2cm wide, gradually narrowing to sharp tip and short stalk.

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


Melaleuca lucida G.Forst., Metrosideros lucida (G.Forst.) A.Rich.


Endemic. North, South, Stewart and Auckland Islands. In the North Island locally present from Te Paki south to Mt Pirongia, the northern Kaimai Ranges (Ngatamahinerua) and Mt Manuoha (Te Urewera National Park). In the South Island from Durville Island south and to Fiordland, with a mainly westerly distribution (absent from Marlbrough), most of Canterbury and northern Otago. Common on Stewart and the Auckland Islands.

Flower Colours

Red / Pink

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed but inclined to be rather slow-growing unless planted in ideal conditions. In cultivation this species prefers a moist soil. Can be grown from soft-wood and semi-hardwood cuttings but these can be very difficult to strike. A beautiful specimen tree which shoud be more widely planted in locations where conditions are suitable.


Not Threatened. However, rather uncommon in the North Island, and at some sites it is locally threatened by possum browse.

Chromosome No.

2n = 22

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Taxonomic Notes

North Island plants are genetically (based on nrDNA ITS sequences) distinct from South Island plants but the differences cannot be matched to morphology. All recent southern rata collections made from the Tararua Ranges are the hybrid M. robusta x M. umbellata (Gardner et al. 2004). A few photographs taken in the 1930s from the Francis Ridge, Southern Tararua Ranges may have been genuine M. umbellata but the species cannot be found there now. Other northern Tararua records of M. umbellata appear to be based on M. robusta.

References and further reading

Beddie, A.D. 1953. Root behaviour in Metrosideros. Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin, 26: 2-6

de Lange, P.J. 1994. Southern rata Metrosideros umbellata confirmed from Mt Pirongia Western Waikato. Auckland Botanical Society Journal, 49: 57-59.

Druce, A.P. 1959. Southern rata in the Tararuas. Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin, 31: 12-15

Gardner, R.C.; de Lange, P.J.; Bowala, T.; Brown. H.A.; Keeling, J.; Wright, S.D. 2004: A Quaternary phylogeography for New Zealand inferred from chloroplast DNA haplotypes in Metrosideros (Myrtaceae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 83: 399-412.


This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014