Stinkwood, shit shrub
Vascular – Native
Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs
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 = 132
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). 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.
2012 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Shrub with pairs of thin pale green leaves that smell strongly of dung when crushed. Leaves 1-2cm long, veins not easily seen on the underside, widest at middle and gradually tapering to tip and base, small dark teeth between the bases of the leaf pairs. Fruits yellow or orange.
Endemic. North, South, Stewart and Auckland Islands. Occurs from Moehau in North Island southwards.
Occurs in coastal to subalpine forest, shrubland and occassionally grasslands.
Shrub or tree up to 3 m tall (can reach 6m occassionally). Open-branched with branches rather brittle. The bark is dark brown; branchlets are glabrous. Leaves are foetid (smelly) when bruised or crushed, and occur on slender narrowly winged petioles 8 - 15 mm. long. Stipules are truncate (see image), but produced into a usually conspicuous long denticle; ciliolate, with tufts of unequal hairs at tips. Lamina membranaceous to subcoriacious, obovate to oblong to broadly ovate, obtuse, apiculate to mucronulate, 30-50 × 14-20 mm. Reticulations of veins evident, at least below. Flowers are solitary and terminal on branchlets. The drupe is pale to full orange, oblong and 7-10 mm and tases horrible. long. For more information see full Flora description below.
Stunted forms of C. foetidissima may be confused with C. colensoi but the former can be distinguished by the smell of rotten eggs which is given off when the leaves are crushed. Also the fruit is not flecked with darker red.
October - November
March - July
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’
foetidissima: Vile smelling
This is the type species of the genus Coprosma J.R.Forst. et G.Forst.
Fact sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange for NZPCN (1 June 2013)
References and further reading
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
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Coprosma foetidissima Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/coprosma-foetidissima/ (Date website was queried)