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 = 26
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
Low-growing sprawling shrub bearing erect tufts of blue-green narrow tapering leaves inhabiting West Coast mountains. Leaves 42-60mm x 4-5mm at widest point. Flowers tubular, mixed in leaves at base of leaf tufts. Fruit a dry capsule.
Endemic. New Zealand: South Island (southern Nelson southwards to West Canterbury and North Westland)
Dracophyllum kirkii is a species of subalpine shrubland, tussock grassland, fell field and herbfield on gentle to moderately steep mountain slopes, ridgelines as well as on bluffs and boulderfalls
Decumbent to spreading multi–stemmed shrub, 0.2–1.4 m tall. Bark on old branches grey to dark grey, smooth or finely fissured, young stems reddish brown. Leaves dimorphic; juvenile leaves: spirally arranged along branches, spreading, glaucous; lamina sheath 9.3–7.5 × 5.4–8.0 mm, coriaceous, tapering and margin ciliate in upper half; lamina coriaceous, 42.0–60.0 × 4.0–4.7 mm, linear–triangular, surfaces glabrous; margins serrulate with 80–90 teeth per 10 mm; adult leaves spreading, glaucous to occasionally light green; lamina sheath 4.0–10.0 × 3.5–9.0 mm, subcoriaceous, striate, shoulders tapering to auricled and margin membranous, smooth to ciliate in the top half;adult lamina linear–triangular, 16.0–70.0 × 1.5–4.0 mm, prominently striated; margins serrulate with 90–110 teeth per 10 mm. Inflorescence a solitary sessile and erect flower near apices of branches; shorter than leaves; inflorescence bract over-topping flower, glaucous, 8.0–20.0 × 2.0–2.6 mm, ovate, surfaces glabrous, margins ciliate. Sepals 6.5–7.0 × 2–3 mm, ovate, shorter than to equaling corolla tube; margins ciliate. Corolla white; corolla tube 5.0–6.0 × 2.0–2.5 mm, cylindrical; corolla lobes reflexed, 1.8–2.0 × 1.0–1.5 mm, ovate–triangular to triangular, shorter than corolla tube, apices acute to subacute; apical ridge present, adaxial surface papillate. Stamens inserted on corolla tube in upper third, filaments 0.4–0.6 mm long; anthers included, oblong, light yellow and 0.8–1.2 mm long. Ovary cylindrical to ovate, 1.8–2.0 × 1.5–2.0 mm, glabrous, apex round; nectary scales rectangular, 1.0–1.5 × 0.7–0.9 mm, apices retuse; style included, 0.7–2.0 mm long, glabrous; stigma capitate. Fruit light brown, 2.7–3.0 × 2.3–2.5 mm, broadly obovoid, apex round, glabrous. Seeds light brown, ovoid, 0.95–1.0 mm long, testa slightly reticulate.
Dracophyllum kirkii is easily recognised by its sprawling habit with the branchlets erect at the tips; smooth, dark grey bark with shallow fissures; glaucous leaves, with the lamina 20–40 × 2–4 mm, and the lamina sheath not much wider than lamina and the lamina base scabrous; flowers solitary; corolla tube 5 mm long and shorter to equaling the sepals. Dracophyllum kirkii seems most closely allied to D. pubescens, which differs in having pubescent leaves and 3–5–flowered racemes. Although Dracophyllum kirkii resembles D. pubescens in having glaucous leaves, these are always glabrous not pubescent and the inflorescence is always a solitary flower.
October – April
Throughout the year
Minute seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Difficult - should not be removed from the wild
dracophyllum: Dragon leaf, from its likeness to the dragon tree of the Canary Islands
kirkii: After Thomas Kirk (18 January 1828 - 8 March 1898), a NZ botanist and lecturer in natural sciences and regarded as a leader of botanical enquiry in NZ for over three decades. One of his most significant publications was Forest flora of NZ (1889) but he also contributed over 130 papers to the Transactions and Proceedings of the NZ Institute and other journals.
Where To Buy
Not commercially available.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (6 June 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 kirkii Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/dracophyllum-kirkii/ (Date website was queried)