Coprosma banksii Hook.f., Coprosma pseudocolensoi (Cockayne) in Allan 1934.
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
Bushy shrub with small pairs of leaves inhabiting montane forests. Plants with one of two forms of leaves – either very narrow or oval. Leaves 9-15mm long, abruptly tapering to stem if oval shaped, with 1-2 pits on underside. Fruit crimson.
North, South and Stewart Islands. Mount Moehau southwards.
Lowland to lower subalpine forest, shrubland.
Slender to rather stout spreading leafy shrub up to 2 (-3) m tall. Branches with dark brown to red-brown bark; branchlets pubescent to glabrous. Leaves on pubescent petioles 2-3 mm long. Stipules triangular, subacute to obtuse, with scattered patches of short hairs, ciliolate 9usually with prominent dark denticle). Lamina fresh yellowish-green to dark green, glabrous, coriaceous, oblong to broad-oblong to obovate to elliptic (several forms usually on one plant), (7- ) 9-15 (-20) x (3-) 5-8 mm, obtuse to truncate or retuse, narrowed abruptly to petiole. Midrib and many secondary veins evident. Flowers solitary on decurved peduncles. Male flower without calyx; corolla subcampanulate, lobes ovate, acute, more or less equal to tube. Female flower with small, obtuse teeth; corolla tubular, lobes acute, longer than tube. Drupe crimson, broad-oblong, 6-7 mm. long.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
Coprosma foetidissima may easily be confused when stunted forms are present, though generally much larger-leaved. Unlike C. colensoi, C. foetidissima gives off a strong smell of rotten eggs when crushed; the leaves are thinner as well as usually being more than 20 mm long; the flowers face upwards, and the fruit is bright orange without red flecks. The fruit of C. colensoi tastes pleasant, but that of C. foetidissima tastes dreadful!
Coprosma rigida has generally smaller leaves than C. colensoi, with a distinctive flat or indented hair-fringed leaf tip; the branching is much more rigid and wide-angled, and the fruit is whitish or pale orange, and usually distinctly constricted between the two pyrenes.
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’
colensoi: Named after William Colenso (7 November 1811 - 10 February 1899) who was a Cornish Christian missionary to New Zealand, and also a printer, botanist, explorer and politician.
Historically the narrow-leaved forms were misleadingly described as a separate species called Coprosma banksii.
In Allan (1961) Oliver notes that “C. Colensoi hybridizes freely with C. foetidissima wherever it meets this species. So diverse are the hybrid swarms that it is difficult to determine the limits of the species or the probable parentage of the hybrids.
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. 574.
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. 100-101.