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.
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.
2018 | At Risk – Declining
Previous conservation statuses
2017 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: Sp
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Small shrub or tree bearing a robust tuft of thick grass-like leaves at tip of the usually single trunk inhabiting mountains in Fiordland and central Westland. Leaves reddish at tips, 40-70cm long by 4-5cm at widest point, tip often curled. Flowers in a robust dense spike from under the leaf tufts.
Endemic. New Zealand: South Island (South Westland - Western Otago and Fiordland as far north as Alex Knob, Franz Josef).
Lowland to subalpine on steep ridge lines, cliff faces, bluffs, ravines, gully heads and the upper slopes of glaciated valleys. Usually found in low subalpine forest and shrubland, less commonly in tussock grassland.
A tree 1.5–5.0 m tall. Branches erect and sparsely branched. Bark on old branches greyish–brown, deeply fissured to flaky at the base on old stems and branches, young stems yellowish brown. Leaves crowded on tips of branches; lamina sheath 60–87 × 30–43 mm, coriaceous, striate, tapering and margin smooth; lamina coriaceous, linear–triangular to lanceolate, 400–700 × 40–50 mm, surfaces glabrous, prominently striated; margin denticulate with 10–15 teeth per 10 mm; apex acute and often spiraling. Inflorescence an axillary panicle some distance below the leaves; much shorter than the leaves, drooping, dense, 100–150 mm long, pyramidal, densely branched; rachis and pedicels glabrous; inflorescence axis 5.6–7.7 mm in diameter; basal inflorescence branch 20–50 mm long, widely spreading; inflorescence bracts caducous, over topping flowers, light green, ovate–triangular at base, 40–51 × 18–21 mm, surfaces glabrous, margins ciliate. Flowers hidden by leaves, 113–120, in groups of more than 10 at base of inflorescence; bracteoles caducous, longer than the perianth and situated in the middle of the pedicel, 4.5–5.0 × 0.8–1.0 mm, glabrous; pedicels straight, 0.8–1.5 mm long, glabrous. Sepals ovate, 2.0–2.5 × 2.0–3.0 mm, shorter than the corolla tube, striate, surfaces glabrous; margins ciliate. Corolla light to dark pink; corolla tube broadly campanulate, widened at mouth, 2.0–2.5 long and wide; corolla lobes reflexed, oblong, equaling the corolla tube, 1.5–2.0 × 1.3–1.5 mm, apices obtuse; surfaces glabrous. Stamens hypogynous, filaments 2.3–2.5 mm long; anthers exserted, oblong, light yellow and 1.5–2.0 mm long. Ovary subglobose, 0.9–1.0 × 1.3–1.5 mm, glabrous, apex round; nectary scales rectangular, 0.6–0.7 mm long and wide, apex retuse; style exserted, 1.8–2.0 mm long, glabrous; stigma five–lobed. Fruit reddish brown, 2.0–2.8 × 2.5–4.0 mm, depressed– globose, apex round, glabrous. Seeds brown, ovoid, 0.55–0.6 mm long, testa slightly reticulate.
Dracophyllum fiordense is recognised by the unbranched (occasionally only once) stems; very large and long leaves with narrowed lamina bases and prominently spiraled apices; the panicle situated below the leaves; sepals shorter than the corolla tube with spaced cilia on the margin; bracteoles longer than the flower with a few teeth at the apex; anthers exserted; and by the short and very broad capsule. Dracophyllum fiordense is related to D. menziesii and D. townsonii as all species possess axillary panicles situated below the leaves. It resembles D. traversii somewhat but differs in the unbranched to sparsely branched stems, the large leaves with spiralled apices and the inflorescences situated below the leaves. The panicles are more branched than those of D. menziesii but closely resemble those of D. townsonii in size and shape.
January – March
Throughout the year
Minute seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild. Don’t be tempted - take photographs instead!
dracophyllum: Dragon leaf, from its likeness to the dragon tree of the Canary Islands
fiordense: Of Fiordland
Where To Buy
Not commercially available.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (29 March 2012). Description adapted from Venter (2009)
References and further reading
Venter, S. 2009: A taxonomic revision of the genus Dracophyllum Labill. (Ericaceae). Unpublished Phd Thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, 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 11: 285-309
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Dracophyllum fiordense Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/dracophyllum-fiordense/ (Date website was queried)