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.
2017 | Not Threatened | Qualifiers: DP
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Low-growing reddish shrub with multiple branches topped by a tuft of wide grass-like leaves inhabiting the southwest of the South Island. Leaves tough, 90-220mm long by 9-17mm wide, margin rough to touch. Flowers tubular, in crowded spikes underneath the leaves.
Endemic. New Zealand: South and Stewart Islands. In the South Island it is found west of a line from Haast to Invercargill.
Coastal to alpine. Usually in subalpine shrubland, alpine grassland, tussock grassland and herbfield. Also colonising cliffs, bluffs and rock outcrops.
Erect stemmed, sparingly branched shrubs 0.5–1.0 m tall. Bark on old branches grey, smooth, rarely deeply fissured at base, young stems brown. Leaves crowded at tips of branches in a bromelioid manner; lamina sheath light brown, 10.0–20 × 7.0–20.4 mm, coriaceous, striate; tapering, margins membranous and smooth; lamina coriaceous, linear–triangular to occasionally triangular, 90–220 × 9–17 mm, surfaces glabrous, prominently striated; margins cartilaginous, serrate, thickened, with 20–32 teeth per 10 mm; apex thickened, acute. Inflorescence an axillary panicle situated below the leaves; shorter than the leaves, drooping, dense, 50–150 mm long, oblong and sparsely branched; rachis and pedicels pubescent; inflorescence axis mid green to reddish brown, 1.5–2.4 mm in diameter; basal inflorescence branch 11.0–12.4 mm long, widely spreading; inflorescence bracts caducous, over-topping the flowers, dark green to red, broadly ovate at base, 12.0–19.2 × 6.0–8.8 mm, adaxial surfaces glabrous to sericeous in basal half; abaxial surfaces glabrous, margins ciliate. Flowers 8–38, in groups of three at base of inflorescence, pedicellate; bracteoles caducous, recaulescent, with one bracteole situated just below the perianth and the other in the middle of the pedicel, shorter than flower, 4–5 × 0.8–1.0 mm, glabrous; pedicels straight, 1.5–5.5 mm long, tomentose. Sepals ovate to broadly ovate, 2.5–3.5 × 1.5–2.5 mm, shorter than the corolla tube, striate, surfaces glabrous; margins ciliate. Corolla white to red; corolla tube campanulate, widened at mouth, 4–7 × 3–5 mm; corolla lobes reflexed, ovate–triangular, shorter than corolla tube, 2.0–4.5 × 1.1–1.6 mm, apices obtuse; surfaces glabrous. Stamens inserted at top of corolla tube, filaments 0.5–1.2 mm long; anthers included, oblong, light yellow and 1.3–1.5 mm long. Ovary obovate, 1.3–1.5 × 1.7–2.0, glabrous, apex round; nectary scales rectangular, 0.7–0.8 long and wide, apices retuse; style included, 2.5–3.5 mm long, glabrous, lengthening in fruit; stigma five–lobed. Fruit reddish brown, 1.5–2.5 × 2.5–5.0 mm, depressed–globose, apex round, glabrous. Seeds dark brown, ovoid, 0.55–1.3 mm long, testa slightly reticulate.
Dracophyllum menziesii is recognised by its shrubby habit, mostly unbranched (and if so then sparingly) growth habit; leaves which are crowded in a bromelioid fashion, and which are short and broad lamina (90–220 × 9–17 mm). Of the other Dracophyllum species D. menziesii is most similar to D. townsonii which is a more northerly species (neither species is known to grow together) and from which D. menziesii is easily separated by the mostly unbranched stems, the shorter and wider leaves, and by the flowers which are arranged in groups of 3 rather 5-10 on the lower inflorescence branches. In Dracophyllum menziesii the stamens and styles are included while those of D. townsonii are exserted.
November – February
January - May
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
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (6 April 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 menziesii Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/dracophyllum-menziesii/ (Date website was queried)