sand coprosma, tātaraheke
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 = 44
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 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: PD
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: DP
2009 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: DP
2004 | Not Threatened
Sprawling yellowish small-leaved shrub inhabiting coastal areas. Twigs orange, slightly fuzzy at tip. Leaves narrow, small, with dark line down middle on the underside, in clusters of pairs scattered along twigs. Flowers tiny, with long protruding threads. Fruit white.
Endemic. North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands
Coastal sands throughout distribution.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
UPL: Obligate Upland
Rarely is a hydrophyte, almost always in uplands (non-wetlands).
Low-growing, shrub with slender flexible, sprawling to prostrate, interlacing branches and branchlets, forming a more or less cushion-like mass up to 2 m across, and occasionally up to 2 m tall when supported (mostly low in stature). Branchlets numerous with orange-brown bark, pubescent when young. Leaves in opposite pairs or fascicles, on yellowish petioles. Stipules rounded-obtuse to broadly triangular, more or less pubescent, ciliolate, sometimes with 1 or more tiny dark denticles. Lamina coriaceous, yellowish green, linear obtuse, 7-12 x 1-1.5 (-2) mm. Midrib alone evident. Flowers solitary, terminal on short branchlets. Male flower with calyx non-existent or vestigial; corolla funnelform, lobes ovate-oblong, subacute, more or less equal to tube. Female flower with acute, narrow-triangular calyx-teeth; corolla funnelform, lobes narrow-oblong, obtuse. Drupe translucent, very pale to pale blue, often with darker flecks, globose, subglobose or broadly oblong, approximately 5-7 mm diameter.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
Coprosma brunnea more open habit, less leaves, only found inland in South Island, not thought to overlap naturally due to habitat requirements.
Coprosma rugosa is a taller and much more upright shrub with stiff, erect branchlets.
Coprosma intertexta is bushy but not stiffly erect; the leaves are sharp-tipped in outline and usually red-margined.
Plagianthus divaricatus has alternate, not opposite, leaves or leaf clusters, dark brown bark and dark green leaves.
Fleshy drupes are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Not Threatened but rapidly becoming scarce in large parts of its range. Seems to resent dune reclaimation and competition from marram grass (Ammophila arenaria).
coprosma: From the Greek kopros ‘dung’ and osme ‘smell’, referring to the foul smell of the species, literally ‘dung smell’
acerosa: From the Latin acus ‘sharp’, meaning sharp or pointed
Wilson & Galloway (1993) suggest prostrate forms known as C. brunnea do not represent a distinct species.
A natural hybrid exists, C. acerosa x C. repens which is known as C. ‘x Kirkii’ and is often for sale in commercial nurseries.
Description adapted by M. Ward from Allan (1961) and Wilson & Galloway (1993).
References and further reading
Allan, H. H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand. Vol. 1. Wellington: Government Printer. pg. 566-567.
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
Wilson, H. D., & Galloway, T. 1993. Small-leaved shrubs of New Zealand. Manuka Press. pg. 108-110.