Vascular – Native
Trees & Shrubs - Dicotyledons
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.
2n = 28
Current conservation status
The threat classification status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
A small-leaved shrub with hairy branchlets and veins evident on the underside of leaves
Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands. Throughout, but often localised in occurrence
Lowland to subalpine forest understory and shrubland, commoner at hgher altitudes
Dioecious, variable, much branched erect or low growing shrub, sometimes spiny, to 2 m tall; trunk and branches sub-divaricate to upright, rigid, sometimes entangled; bark reddish brown; branchlets reddish brown, pubescent. Leaves opposite or in opposite fascicles on arrested branchlets; petioles c. 2 mm long, widening into lamina; midvein inconspicuous above, midvein and secondary veins obvious below; lamina either 5-7 x 4-5 mm, obovate to oblong, coriaceous, dark green, or c. 15 x 9 mm, ovate to lanceolate, thinner, lighter green, margins distinctly serrate, tip acute to obtuse, base cuneate, undersides pale green. Juvenile leaves larger, thinner, irregularly lobed and serrate. Inflorescences inconspicuous, lateral along branchlets, flowers c. 2-3 mm diam., solitary, in opposite pairs or in 3-6 flowered cymes, on short pubescent pedicels 1-2 mm long. Sepals 4, oblong, pubescent; petals 4, slightly > sepals, with 1-4 crenate teeth, white to light pink to red. Stamens 4-6, not projecting beyond corolla, anthers > filaments. Ovary 2- celled(?), styles 2(?). Fruit a c. 2(?)-seeded fleshy berry, 3-4 mm diam., pale, white, pink, bright red to black, bitter to taste. Seed irregularly angled, ventral surface flattened, elliptic, 2.0-2.6 mm, surface irrregular, attachment scar obvious, small orange aril sometimes present.
Similar to other small leaved shrub species with veins conspicuous below, particularly Raukaua anomalous (which has a flattened, jointed petiole) and Melicytus micranthus (which has a pale blotch at the base of the lamina)
November to April
Fleshy berries are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
aristotelia: Named after Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and polymath
Description adapted from Allan 1961, Heenan and de Lange 2006, Eagle 2000 and Webb and Simpson 2001.
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
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 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309
Webb, C.J. & Simpson, M.J.A. 2001. Seeds of NZ gymnosperms and dicotyledons. Manuka Press, Christchurch
Wilson, H; Galloway, T. 1993. Small-leaved shrubs of New Zealand. Manuka Press, Christchurch
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Aristotelia fruticosa Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/aristotelia-fruticosa/ (Date website was queried)