Dracophyllum rosmarinifolium var. politum Cheeseman
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
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Low-growing tight-packed hard cushion or sprawling small shrub with very small narrow glossy leaves covering the twigs inhabiting some mountain areas of the South Island. Leaves to 12mm long, pressed close to twig. Flowers small white, solitary at tip of hidden branches, but can cover surface of cushion.
Endemic. New Zealand: South (North-west Nelson (Mount Goul), North Westland (Denniston area) Fiordland National Park, Otago (Mount Maungatua)) and Stewart Islands
Montane to alpine in fully exposed sites on gentle mountain slopes, especially on mountain summits and plateaus. A sparse to locally common component of subalpine to alpine shrubland, herbfield, fell field, grassland or bog.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
FACW: Facultative Wetland
Usually is a hydrophyte but occasionally found in uplands (non-wetlands).
Cushion–forming, up to 0.5 m tall and 1 m in diameter, or a scrambler 0.02–0.5 m tall. Branches spreading to prostrate, much–branched. Bark on old stems grey to brown, broadly fissured, young stems reddish brown. Leaves imbricate, appressed to stem, erect, olive to dark green, dry old leaves present. Leaf sheath 2.5–4.0 × 3.0–4.0 mm, shoulders tapering to round and margin membranous, ciliate. Lamina rigid and hard, 3.5–17.2 × 0.7–1.5 mm, linear, adaxial surface flat; surfaces glossy, margins serrulate with 90–100 teeth per 10 mm; apex obtuse or occasionally subacute. Inflorescence a sessile, solitary terminal flower; shorter than leaves, erect. Flower bract shorter than flower, foliose, 2.0–3.0 × 0.7–0.8 mm, broadly ovate to triangular, margins serrulate, apices obtuse. Sepals 4.8–5.0 × 1.8–2.0 mm, ovate–lanceolate, longer than corolla tube, adaxial surface with top half pubescent; abaxial surface glabrous; margins ciliate. Corolla white; corolla tube 3.5–4.5 × 1.4–1.5 mm cylindrical, widened at mouth; corolla lobes spreading horizontally to reflexed, 1.5–2.2 × 1.0–1.8 mm, ovate–triangular, shorter than corolla tube, apical ridge present, inflexed at apex, obtuse; adaxial surface papillate. Stamens inserted on corolla tube in upper third, filaments 0.5–1.0 mm long; anthers included, 0.9–1.0 mm long, oblong, light yellow. Ovary 1.2–1.8 × 1.2–1.3 mm, ovate, apex round; nectary scales 0.8–1.2 × 0.5–0.7 mm, rectangular, apices irregularly toothed; style included, 1.0–1.1 mm long, glabrous, not lengthening in fruit; stigma five–lobed. Fruit 2.5–3.0 × 1.5–2.5 mm, dark brown, oblong and ridged at the ribs; apex round, glabrous. Seeds 0.68–0.7 mm long, dark brown, ovoid, testa prominently reticulate.
Dracophyllum politum is a distinctive, dense cushion-forming plant or a prostrate shrublet with densely imbricated leaves appressed to the branch. The leaves are very glossy, convex, slightly curved inwards and with obtuse apices. The flowers are solitary and the flower bracts have blunt apices. The corolla lobes are distinctively inflexed and have a prominent apical ridges.
December - March
February - May
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
Where To Buy
Not commercially available.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (16 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 politum Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/dracophyllum-politum/ (Date website was queried)