D’urvilles grass tree
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 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 – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: PD
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: DP
2004 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
Erect grassy shrub with many very long and fine grass-like wavy leaves inhabiting the northern tip of the South Island. Leaves 54-128mm long by 0.4-1.7mm wide, abruptly narrowing to a lobed base that sheaths the stem. Flowers white, in clusters of 2-4 on short side branches, nearly hidden by leaves.
Endemic. northern South Island where it is known from Abel Tasman National Park eastwards to the Marlborough Sounds.
Coastal. Growing on cliff faces and in coastal scrub and forest often within the splash zone.
Small single–stemmed shrub or small tree 2–8 m tall. Bark on old branches grey to greyish brown, finely fissured, young stems reddish brown. Leaves dimorphic. Juvenile leaves spirally arranged along branches, spreading to recurved; lamina sheath 5.0–6.0 × 1.3–1.5 mm, truncate, yellowish green, margin membranous with the upper half ciliate; lamina 79.0–145.0 × 1.5–3.7 mm, linear–triangular, margins serrulate with 40–50 teeth per 10 mm. Adult leaves spreading to recurved; lamina sheath 3.6–9.0 × 2.5–3.0 mm, thinly coriaceous, shoulders truncate to auricled and margins membranous with the top half ciliate; lamina 33.0–128.0 × 0.42–1.68 mm, linear to linear–triangular, adaxial surface sometimes shortly scabrid; margins serrulate with 45–60 teeth per 10 mm. Inflorescence a terminal raceme on lateral branchlets; shorter than leaves, erect, lax, 14–23 mm long, oblong. Inflorescence bract overtopping flowers, 15.4–35.0 × 0.5–0.6 mm, ovate–lanceolate, surfaces rugose; margins serrulate. Flowers hidden by leaves, 2–5, pedicellate; flower bracts overtopping flowers, 11.3–15.6 × 0.4 0.5 mm, narrowly ovate; margins ciliate; pedicel 0.5 – 0.7 mm long. Sepals 5.5–7.0 × 1.2–3.0 mm, ovate–lanceolate, equaling corolla tube, adaxial surface with the top half pubescent; margins ciliate in the upper half; apices acute. Corolla white; corolla tube 3.5–5.0 × 1.5–2.0 mm, narrowly–campanulate, widened at mouth; corolla lobes spreading to reflexed, 1.9–2.0 × 1.3–1.5 mm, ovate, shorter than corolla tube, apices acute, adaxial surface papillate. Stamens inserted on corolla tube in the upper third, filaments 0.5–0.8 mm long; anthers included, 0.5–1.0 mm long, oblong, light yellow. Ovary 1.0–1.5 × 1.0–1.3 mm, globose, apex round to truncate; nectary scales 0.5–0.6 × 0.4–0.5 mm, rectangular; apices subacute to retuse; style included, 1.3–2.0 mm long, glabrous, not lengthening in fruit; stigma capitate. Fruit with the old sepals widely spreading, 2–3 × 2.0–2.5 mm, oblong, light brown; apex truncate. Seeds 0.95–1.0 mm, ovoid, yellowish brown, testa slightly reticulate.
Dracophyllum urvilleanum is recognised by the dimorphic foliage (juvenile and adult), thinly textured wide juvenile leaves, adult leaves which are long-linear and with lamina sheaths which are truncate or with auricled shoulders,; flowers in short (14–23 mm) few–flowered (2–4) racemes, with the flower bract overtopping the flower, and which have a narrowly–campanulate corolla tube, with the style longer than the ovary and the fruit enclosed in widely spreading persistent sepals. Dracophyllum urvilleanum is most similar to D. oliveri from which it differs by having narrower, more thinly textured juvenile leaves; longer and narrower drooping adult leaves, and fewer flowered (mostly 2–3 flowers not 5–10) racemes and truncate not round fruit apices. Dracophyllum urvilleanum does not grow within the range of D. oliveri. Dracophyllum urvilleanum is easily confused with D. filifolium from which it differs in having dimorphic foliage (juvenile and adult), smooth adult leaf surfaces (weakly striated in D. filifolium), inflorescences in racemes rather than spikes; bracts with serrulate rather than ciliate margins, and longer ((15.4–35.0 mm cf. 8.5–17.0 mm in D. filifolium). Also the flowers of D. filifolium are cylindrical rather campanulate (D. urvilleanum)
(September-) October to January
December to March
Minute seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Difficult to grow without specialist knowledge.
Though widespread, the species is threatened at a few sites by coastal development, human traffic. Fire is considered a serious potential threat at the majority of sites. This is because the species is very flammable and following fire many of the coastal habitats in which this species grows become dominated by gorse (Ulex europaeus) which appears to out compete it.
dracophyllum: Dragon leaf, from its likeness to the dragon tree of the Canary Islands
urvilleanum: Named after Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville (23 May 1790 - 8 May 1842) - a French explorer, naval officer and rear admiral, who explored the south and western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica.
Where To Buy
Not commercially available.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (3 October 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 urvilleanum Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/dracophyllum-urvilleanum/ (Date website was queried)