Coprosma rufescens Colenso
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 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
Large bushy shrub with wide-angled twigs bearing pairs of small rounded slightly hairy and often purple-blotched leaves. Leaves 15-25mm long x 10-20mm wide, covered in small hairs, rapidly tapering to a sharp tip. Fruit orange or red on very short stalks.
Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands from about Kaitaia south
Lowland to montane. Usually in riparian forest and shrubland, especially on alluvial soils or those derived from calcareous parent materials.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Commonly occurs as either a hydrophyte or non-hydrophyte (non-wetlands).
Rather slender shrub or tree up to 2-5 m tall; branches spreading to divaricate; branchlets pubescent to villous. Leaves on villous petioles 3-8 mm. long. Stipules obtuse, oblong, sheathing, pubescent to villous, usually with 1 denticle. Lamina membranous, hairy, especially on margins, dull green, red or red-green, often blotched brown, obtuse, sometimes apiculate, rounded to truncate to subcordate at base (usually on same plant): 15-25 × 10-20 mm. Reticulations of veins evident on both surfaces. Flowers in axillary clusters of 2-4. Male without calyx; corolla funnelform to subcampanulate, lobes ovate, acute, > tube. Female with more or less pubescent minutely toothed calyx; corolla tubular, lobes triangular, 4-5 mm long, subacute, sparsely hairy. Drupe red or white, depressed-globose, sometimes didymous, 4-5 mm diameter.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
Coprosma rotundifolia is superficially similar to and most often confused with C. rubra. Coprosma rubra differs from the much more widespread C. rotunidfolia by its smaller leaves (10-18 x 6-13 mm cf. 15-25 x 10-20 mm in C. rotundifolia, female flowers whose calyces have conspicuous linear rather than inconspicuous minute teeth, and oblong, yellowish-white to white rather than red or white globose drupes. Both species may be found growing together.
September - November
September - August
Fleshy drupes are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easy from fresh seed and semi-hardwood cuttings. An attractive shrub to small tree that does well in dappled light. Should be planted in a free draining but moist, fertile soil.
coprosma: From the Greek kopros ‘dung’ and osme ‘smell’, referring to the foul smell of the species, literally ‘dung smell’
rotundifolia: Round leaf; from the Latin rotundus and folium
Description adapted from Allan (1961)
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I, Government Printer, Wellington.
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 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309