None (first described in 1879)
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.
2012 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: DP
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Rare orangeish or olive green bushy shrub with tangled wide-angled branches bearing pairs of small pointed oval leaves on flattened leaf stalk. Bark smooth and knobbled, greenish. Leaves 5-9mm long, with a ridge of small hairs on stem between leaf bases. Fruit white with small black dots.
Endemic. North and South Islands from the ranges east of Gisborne, and especially around Taihape south. Scarce in Nelson and apparently absent from Marlborough and absent from Westland, common in Canterbury south to Southland. Throughout its range it is mainly eastern and often very uncommon or absent from large parts of its range
Lowland to lower montane. On well drained to poorly draining fertile soils (often overlying calcareous or base-rich igneous rocks). In forest and shrubland.
Filiramulate, divaricating greyish or reddish-green shrub or small tree up to 5 m tall with green to greyish bark; branches slender, ascending; branchlets very slender, subtetragonous, flexible, interlacing, glabrous or nearly so. Leaves often fascicled, on slender glabrous petioles 2-6 mm long. Stipules subacute to obtuse, broadly triangular, connate near base, more or less pubescent to glabrous; denticles usually 3. Lamina subcoriaceous, glabrous, pale green, brown-green or reddish, 4-9 × 3-6 mm rhomboid, ovate to ovate-oblong, obtuse, abruptly narrowed to petiole; margins sometimes waved or with a few blunt teeth. Reticulations of veins usually evident on both surfaces, at least when lamina fresh. Male flowers 1-2 on short branchlets; calyx 0; corolla funnelform, lobes ovate, acute, much > tube. Female flowers solitary on short branchlets; calyx-teeth minute, ciliolate; corolla tubular, lobes acute, more or less = tube. Drupe 5-6 mm long, yellowish white, oblong.
Easily recognised by the filiramulate, divaricating growth habit, green to greyish bark, and small pale greenish or brown-green rhomboid, ovate to ovate-oblong, obtuse leaves that are abruptly narrowed to the petiole. The drupes are oblong, yellowish-white and up to 6 mm long when fresh. It is perhaps most likely to be confused with Coprosma tenuicaulis which is a species of swamps and which differs by having pubescent rather than glabrescent, dark maroon rather then reddish, orange or greenish branchlets, and larger (8-13 x 9-10 mm cf. 5-9 x 3-6 mm in C. virescens) orbicular-ovate, spathulate, obtuse leaves which have darker margins and a lighter pigmented central blotch on the upper leaf surface. The drupes of Coprosma tenuicaulis are globose, 3-4 mm dimatere and dark reddish-black to black
September - November
May - July
Fleshy drupes are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Very popular in cultivation on account of its unusual growth habit and tolerance of a range of soils and planting situations. Easy from fresh seed and semi-hardwood cuttings. An attractive shrub to small tree that does best in full sun but will tolerate moderate shade. 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’
virescens: Becoming green
Where To Buy
Commonly sold by most retail plant nurseries.
Description adapted from Allan (1961)
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I, Government Printer, Wellington.