Colensoa physaloides (A.Cunn.) Hook.f.; Pratia physaloides (A.Cunn.) Hemsley
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 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.
2018 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: PD
2009 | At Risk – Relict | Qualifiers: PD
2004 | Gradual Decline
Rare large soft herb with clusters of long tubular purple flowers inhabiting coastal forest of the northern North Island. Leaves large, soft, with many small teeth along margin. Flower base a green cup and on purple fuzzy stalks. Fruit a non-fleshy 10-15mm wide blueish or white capsule.
Endemic. Three Kings, Poor Knights, Hen (Taranga) and Rakitu Islands, mainland northern North Island from Te Paki to about Whangarei and Trounson Kauri Forest. Its remote presence on Rakitu Island off the eastern side of Great Barrier Island suggests that it was probably more widespread on the mainland than the current distribution suggests.
Coastal and lowland forest. Often along stream sides, or in damp sites in half-shade. Formerly common in these types of habitats within the more northerly kauri (Agathis australis) forest remnants.
Densely branched shrub up to 1 x 1 m. Basal stems and rootstock woody. Branches and branchlets erect to spreading, square in cross-section, green or purple, softly hairy. Leaves alternate, petioles stout, fleshy, up to 100 mm long. Leaves (50-)70-150(-200) x (30-)4-60-(100) mm, membraneous, dark green to green, broad-ovate to ovate-oblong or elliptic oblong, apex acute to subacuminate, glabrescent, or finely hairy, with hairs concentrated on veins, leaf margins coarsely serrate. Inflorescences terminal racemes, (5-)10-15(-20)-flowered. Peduncles pubescent. Flowers on slender, pubescent, pedicels 20 mm long; bracts linear. Calyx lobes 8 mm, narrow-triangular to filiform, ciliolate. Corolla, pubescent, 30-50 mm long, violet, dark blue, or rarely white. Lower lip 3-toothed, upper deeply 2-cleft. Berry subglobose, 10-15 mm diam., blue, white with blue spots or streaks or white. Seed 0.6-0.9 mm, broadly elliptic, broadly obovate or circular, orange to orange-brown
May flower throughout the year. However plants are mostly found in flower between August and January
Fruit may be present throughout the year. However, they are more common between November and March
Fleshy berries are dispersed by invertebrate frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easy from fresh seed and cuttings. Very fast growing and ideal in semi-shaded to shaded spots under trees, especially along stream sides. An excellent pot plant.
As a high palatable herb this species has virtually vanished from most of its former mainland habitat. It remains abundant on islands free of browsing animals (such as the Three Kings and Poor Knights). On the mainland plants can be found in locations inaccessible to browsing animals, such as boulder falls and cliff faces and in any location where prolonged animal control or human traffic has reduced or limited the affect of these creatures. If animal browse is removed this species can make a spectacular recovery.
lobelia: Named after Lobel, pioneer botanist
physaloides: Like a cape gooseberry
The generic position of this species has long been debated with various treatments accepting its placement in Lobelia, Pratia or the monotypic Colensoa. The most recent view advocated by Lammers (2011) is that this species is best treated as a Lobelia.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2003. Description based on Allan (1961) .
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Wellington, Government Printer
Lammers, T.G. 2011: Revision of the infrageneric classification of Lobelia L. (Campanulaceae: Lobelioideae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 89(1): 37-62.
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
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Lobelia physaloides Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/lobelia-physaloides/ (Date website was queried)