Hymenanthera angustifolia R.Br auct. non. of N.Z. authors, Hymenanthera dentata R.Br. auct. non. of N.Z. authors, Hymenanthera dentata var. angustifolia (R.Br.) Benth. auct. non. of N.Z. authors, Melicytus angustifolius (R.Br.) Garn.-Jones auct. non. of N.Z. authors.
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 = 32
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.
2018 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
Previous conservation statuses
2017 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable | Qualifiers: CD, RF
2012 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: CD, RF
2009 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: RF, CD
2004 | Gradual Decline
Greyish widely branched tangled shrub with speckled nearly leafless twigs in open sites. Sparse leaves occur on plants in the shade, 10-20mm long by 1mm wide, dark green. Flowers small, bell-shaped, sweetly perfumed, under branches. Fruit small, purple.
Endemic to New Zealand. It is restricted to the Waione Frost Flats and Pureora-Taihape region in the North Island but widespread throughout the South Island. The northern limit for this species occurs in the Waikato at Pureora.
Fertile alluvial terraces and flood plains in sites prone to heavy frosts and summer drought; often on forest margins and amongst scrub in frosty hollows.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
FACU: Facultative Upland
Occasionally is a hydrophyte but usually occurs in uplands (non-wetlands).
A shrub to 5 metres tall, with interlaced, almost leafless, whip-like, grey-green branchlets. The surface of the branchlets is pitted with lots of tiny white spots (lenticels). The 10–20 mm long linear leaves, if present, are dark green to brown-green, entire or slightly toothed. Seedlings have narrow, brown leaves with a few coarse teeth or lobes along their leaf edges. The strongly perfumed flowers are pale yellow and approximately 2–3 mm diameter. The fruit is a berry, 3.5–5.0 mm diameter.
Flowering occurs from August to November.
Fruiting from February to May.
Fresh seed, though slow to germinate, is usually the best way to grow this species. It can be grown from semi-hardwood and hardwood cuttings but these are often slow and the strike rate can be very variable.
Habitat loss through development, particularly forestry and rural development, weed encroachment.
melicytus: From the Greek meli (honey) and kytos (hollow container), referring to the staminal nectaries of the flowers. Literally “honey-cave”
flexuosus: Torturous, winding
Where To Buy
Rarely offered by specialist native plant nurseries and almost never by commercial nurseries. This is a shame because the almost leafless branches and divaricating shrub form, as well as its hardy nature and tolerance of a wide range of soils, climates and moisture regimes makes it an ideal plant for modern gardens.
The New Zealand plant has frequently been associated with two Australian endemics, both now transferred to Melicytus, and known there as M. angustifolius and M. dentatus (R.Br.) Mabberly et Molloy respectively.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2003. Description based on Molloy & Druce (1994).
References and further reading
Molloy, B. P. J.; Druce, A. P. 1994: A new species name in Melicytus (Violaceae) from New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 32(2): 113-118.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Melicytus flexuosus Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/melicytus-flexuosus/ (Date website was queried)