Coprosma obconica Kirk subsp. obconica
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). 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.
2018 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: RR
2009 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: RRF
2004 | Gradual Decline
Rare bushy small-leaved wide-angled shrub bearing white flattened fruit and with mottled brown or green juvenile leaves (also often present at the base of adult trees). Adult leaves in pairs, to 12mm long, oval, glossy, margins thickened and down-curved, tip blunt with a small sharp point.
Endemic. North Island: scattered populations near Taihape and one near Masterton. South Island: From DUrville Island and north west Nelson south to Southland and Otago, being apparently absent only from Westland and Stewart Island.
Occupying a wide range of habitats, from estuarine shrublands, braided river bars, lowland podocarp forest to montane marble/limestone/dolomite karstfield, and very occasionally ultramafic boulderfields. The species is a basicole preferring to grow on base-rich substrates (limestone, marble, calcareous mudstone, recent alluvium) but typically in those habitats prone to physiological (e.g., ultramafic, dolomite, or estuarine) or climatic (e.g., drought prone, frost hollows, or with a seasonally high water table) stress.
Suberect to erect, heaily branched,divaricating shrub 2-3.5 x 0.8-1 m. Bark of mature twigs brown or pale silver-grey, papery, inner bark green. Adult leaves of one type only, broadly elliptic to oblancelate, 3.5-12 x 1.5-2.5 (-3.5) mm, light greyish green, sometimes mottled yellow. Male and female plants on separate plants. Drupes (fruits) greenish white or translucent white, variously striped or blotched dark violet-purple when fresh. Pyrenes (Seeds) 3 x 2.2. mm, 2.5 mm deep, pale grey or white, clog-shaped. 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. obconica.
Coprosma distantia which differs from C. obconica by its prostrate, trailing habit, uniformly cream to pale lemon-coloured fruits, larger, scarcely “notched” pyrenes (seeds) and nrDNA ITS and ETS sequence. Both C. obconica and C. distantia form a species pair, which are vegetatively distinguished from all other New Zealand Coprosma species by their leaf tips, which possess a nipple-like “bull nose” apical leaf prolongation.
April to August
January to September
Fleshy drupes are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Moderately easy from semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings. Seed germinates easily but plants are very slow growing.
Competition from weeds, and the loss of mainly lowland Podocarp forest habitat are the main active threats. However, ongoing dolomite mining at Mt Burnett seriously threatens one of the largest populations known. Although many populations are small, the species is remarkably resilient if sites are given minimal management, e.g., hand pulling of weeds.
coprosma: From the Greek kopros ‘dung’ and osme ‘smell’, referring to the foul smell of the species, literally ‘dung smell’
obconica: Inverted cone
Where To Buy
Coprosma obconica is grown by a few specialist nurseries, and several botanic gardens. Plants are very slow growing, and without male and female plants fruit is rarely set.
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 obconica Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/coprosma-obconica/ (Date website was queried)