Coprosma obconica subsp. distantia de Lange et R.O.Gardner. Also known by the tag names C. sp.(s) in Eagle (1982)
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 conservation 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.
Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – an interim threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
- Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017 . 2018. 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. Department of Conservation. Source: NZTCS and licensed by DOC for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.
2017 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: OL, RF
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: OL
2009 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: CD, OL
2004 | Range Restricted
Rare bushy low-growing sprawling small-leaved wide-angled shrub inhabiting the northern tip of the North Island. Juvenile leaves mottled brown, adult leaves in sunny parts of plant to 12mm long, those in shaded parts to 20mm long, oval, glossy, margins curved, underside pale, tip with a small sharp point. Fruit yellowish.
Endemic. Known only from the 120 ha exposure of serpentinite rock, at the Surville Cliffs,North Cape Scientific Reserve.
Restricted to ultramafic (serpentinite) rock, where it grows on cliff faces, boulderfields, talus slopes, and on the dark red clay soils which develop on this rock type. It does not like competition from taller shrubs and grasses, so mainly grows in exposed habitats.
Prostrate densely matted divaricating shrubs, 0.1-02 x 2-5 m, branches long-trailing. Bark of mature twigs dark silver-grey to almost black, corky, inner bark dark green. Adult leaves of two types. Those in exposed conditions broadly elliptic to oblancelate, 3.5-12 x 1.5-2.5(-3.5) mm, dark green to almost orange -green, those in the shade up to 20 x 4.5 mm. Both types broadly elliptic to oblanceolate. Male and female plants on separate plants. Drupes (fruits) uniformly cream to pale lemon when fresh. Pyrenes (Seeds) 3.1-4.1(-4.4) x 2.0-2.5 mm, oblong-elliptic or elliptic, pale orange-yelow to light orange-yellow. For a full description see de Lange & Gardner (2002, New Zealand Journal of Botany 40(1): 25-38) where this species is treated as C. obconica subsp. distantia.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
Coprosma obconica differs by its suberect to erect shrub habit, greenish-white or translucent white, fruits variously striped or blotched dark violet-purple, much smaller, clogg-shaped, promiently “notched” pyrenes (seeds). C. obconica rarely grows on ultramafic rock (only two instances, involving two plants known). Both species are vegetatively distinguished from New Zealand Coprosma species by their leaf tips, which possess a nipple-like “bull nose” apical leaf prolongation.
April to October
January to November
Fleshy drupes are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Moderately easy from semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings. Seed should germinate easily. Plants are very slow-growing (even slower than C. obconica s.s.).
No serious active threats are present.The species is very common on the ultramafic (serpentinite) rock. However although viable seed is frequently seen, seedlings remain as yet unknown. All of the Surville Cliffs ultramafic flora is placed at some level of risk due to the slow spread of pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), needle bush (Hakea sericea), and downy hakea (Hakea gibbosa), fire, and from browsing animals.
coprosma: From the Greek kopros ‘dung’ and osme ‘smell’, referring to the foul smell of the species, literally ‘dung smell’
Where To Buy
Coprosma distantia is grown by a few specialist nurseries, and several botanic gardens. Plants are very slow growing. All cultivated material seems to be from a female clone bought into cultivation by the late A.P. (Tony) Druce from material he collected in 1979 the Surville Cliffs. This clone, unlike C. obconica s.s., freely forms sterile fruits, and occasionally hybrid fruit where it is grown in the vicinity of other Coprosma species.
Description based on de Lange and Gardner (2002)
References and further reading
de Lange, P.J.; Gardner, R.O. 2002: A taxonomic reappraisal of Coprosma obconica Kirk (Rubiaceae: Anthospermeae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 40(1): 25-38.
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
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Coprosma distantia Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/coprosma-distantia/ (Date website was queried)