Coprosma depressa (Hook. f.) Cheeseman
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 = 88
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
Low growing, very small leaved shrub with branches bearing perpendicular short leafy branches giving a flattened appearance inhabiting upland areas. Twigs fuzzy. Leaves glossy, narrow, 8-11mm long, tip pointed, in clusters of pairs, with a line of small hairs between the leaf bases. Fruit orange or reddish.
Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands. Locally form Mount Hikurangi southwards.
Montane to subalpine 400-1500m, tussock-grassland, shrubland, bog forest, often permanently damp areas.
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).
FACU: Facultative Upland
Occasionally is a hydrophyte but usually occurs in uplands (non-wetlands).
Prostrate to sprawling shrub up to 0.5 (-1) m tall. Branches greyish, more or less divaricate, branchlets slender; pubescent. Leaves very shortly petioled. Stipules broadly triangular, obtuse, pubescent to villous, ciliate especially at apex. Lamina coriaceous, glossy, olive-green, linear to narrow-oblong, acute, more or less 8-11 x 1-2 mm, margins usually reddish brown. Midrib alone evident. Flowers solitary, terminal on short branchlets. Male flower without calyx; corolla broadly campanulate; lobes 4-6, acute to subacute, more or less equal to tube. Female Flower with calyx-teeth evident, acute, corolla-tube short, lobes linear more or less reflexed. Drupe orange-red, globose, 6-7 mm diameter.
Coprosma cuneata has indented tips to the leaves and dark bark on the branchlets.
C. microcarpa has small while fruit, abundant leaves that are rather thin and often arranged in flat leafy planes, and dark brown bark.
C. acerosa and its close relatives have longer, narrower leaves, and pale blue or white fruit often flecked with darker blue.
C. fowerakeri is more densely leafy, with closely clustered, more leathery leaves and orange fruit.
Fleshy drupes are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
coprosma: From the Greek kopros ‘dung’ and osme ‘smell’, referring to the foul smell of the species, literally ‘dung smell’
cheesemanii: Named after Thomas Frederick Cheeseman (1846 - 15 October 1923) who was a New Zealand botanist and naturalist who, in 1906, produced The Manual of the New Zealand Flora.
Wilson & Galloway (1993) briefly discuss other related spp.: Coprosma aff. cheesemanii (C. sp. (r) of Eagle 1982) is a prostrate shrub with narrow oblong leaves and orange-red fruit. It is restricted to pans of Nelson and Marlborough where it grows in crevices of marble and on the Mineral Belt ultramafic rocks. Coprosma aff. cheesemanii (C. sp. (o) of Eagle 1982) is a prostrate or sprawling shrub up to 70 cm tall with distinctly wider leaves than in C. cheesemanii proper, with which it grows in the central North Island. It is found in subalpine and alpine shrubland in the central North Island southwards to the southern Ruahine Range. A. P. Druce recognises both of these forms as distinct unnamed species.
Description adapted by M. Ward from Allan (1961), Mark (2012), Wilson & Galloway (1993).
References and further reading
Allan, H. H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand. Vol. 1. Wellington: Government Printer. pg. 568, 586-587.
Eagle, A. 1982. Eagle’s trees and shrubs of New Zealand. Vol. 2. Auckland, Collins.
Mark, A. F. 2012. Above the Treeline: A Nature Guide to Alpine New Zealand. Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson. pg. 169.
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. 89-91.