pōhuehue, large-leaved muehlenbeckia
Coccoloba australis G.Forst., Polygonum australe (G.Forst.) A.Rich. nom. illegit., Muehlenbeckia adpressa (Labill.) Meisn., Polygonum forsteri Endl.,
Vascular – Native
Lianes & Related Trailing Plants - 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 = 20
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: SO
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Indigenous. New Zealand - Three Kings, North, South, Stewart Islands. Also Norfolk Island. Chatham Islands plants placed here by other botanists warrant separate taxonomic recognition (see below).
Coastal to montane - common in disturbed habitats such as shrubland, forest margins and other successional vegetation. Often found in rural and urban landscapes, Most common in coastal to lowland habitats but extending to lower montane (up to 600 m a.s.l.). A rampant and at times aggressive vine which is often regarded by people as a serious pest plant.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
FACU: Facultative Upland
Occasionally is a hydrophyte but usually occurs in uplands (non-wetlands).
Gynodioecious, rampant, liane forming tangles of growth up to 15 m long (or rarely more); bark dark brown, black, or grey (if exposed often covered in crustose and fruticose lichen growth), firmly attached. Main stem up to 0.1 m d.b.h., terete, much-branched, pliant, branches often tangled or interlaced, pliant, 10–20 mm diameter, terete; branchlets slender, terete, finely grooved, young growth usually glabrous, sometimes glabrescent, if so then finely pubescent, hairs, brown or black, minute, patent, caducous. Leaves alternate, membranous (wilting readily if picked), glabrous; petiole pliant, 20–25(–30) mm long, greenish, vinous-red, maroon or black; lamina of juvenile 10-30 × 5-10 mm, pandurate, subpandurate or trilobed (often on same plant), apex acute, usually sharply acuminate, acumen up to 5 mm long, base truncate, dull light green to green, with green, vinous-red or maroon margin, midrib impressed, dark green or red-green, veins reddish ± evident; lamina of adult 20-80 × 10-30(-40) mm, broad-ovate to broad-oblong, entire, often undulose, apex sharply, acutely acuminate, acumen 10-15 mm long, base truncate to subtruncate, dull light green, green, dark green, with green, vinous-red or maroon margin, midrib yellowish, slightly raised, veins usually obscure or not evident. Ochreae caduocus, hyaline, (4-)5–6 mm long. Inflorescences axillary and terminal, paniculate, usually leaf at base, panicles 100-150 × 100 mm, comprised of bracteose racemes 30-50 mm long, bracts 1.5-3.0 mm long, narrowly deltoid, hyaline, membranous, caducous. Flowers ± stellate, greenish to cream, 4-5(-6) mm diameter. Tepals free or fused near base, 5.0-6.0 × 1.5-2.0 mm, oblong, ovate, ± cucullate (♀ especially), greenish or cream (♂ especially). ♂ flowers, shortly pedicellate, pedicels 0.4-1.2 mm long, glabrous, green. Tepals 5, widely spreading, stamens 8, antisepalous, in two whorls of four, outer spreading, inner suberect to erect; filaments 5.8-6.2 mm long, cream or white, anthers basifixed, 0.3-0.5 mm, oblong, cream, gynoecium rudimentary (barren). ⚥ flowers similar but with functional gynoecium, found to varying degrees on otherwise ♂ plants. ♀ flowers, shortly pedicellate, pedicels 0.2-0.8 mm long, glabrous, green. Tepals 5, suberect, cucullate, staminodes if present 8, often heavily reduced or absent; stigmas broad, fimbriate. Fruit invested by white succulent persistent perianth. Nut 2.8-4.0 × 1.8-2.9 mm, trullate, triquetrous, asymmetric broad at base, apex subacute, angles obtuse, twisted, faces concave, smooth; surfaces dark red brown, dark brown, or brown-black.
A well marked species unlikely to be confused with any other Muehlenbeckia or vine species wild in New Zealand. From the other New Zealand Muehlenbeckia, except M. complexa, it is distinguished by vine growth habit. From M. complexa var. complexa it is separated by the larger (20-80 × 10-30(-40) mm c.f. 5-20 × 2-15 mm in M. complexa var. complexa) broadly ovate to broadly oblong acuminate leaves (rather than smaller, oblong, obovate to suborbicular), larger (100-150 × 100 mm c.f. 10-40 × 5 mm in M. complexa var. complexa) heavily branched panicles (rather than simple spicate or sparingly branched spicate panicles, sometimes with inflorescences reduced clusters of 2-4 flowers in leaf axils). Muehlenbeckia complexa var. grandifolia is closer to M. australis but the branchlets are covered in dark red tomentum, and the inflorescences spicate. The Chatham Islands race of Muehlenbeckia australis is allopatric from M. australis s.s. it differs by its much larger, coriaceous glossy leaves, and other characters. It is genetically distinct from M. australis - it is currently in the process of being formally described.
Flowering may occur throughout the year.
Fruits may ben present throughout the year
muehlenbeckia: Named after a botanist named Muehlenbeck
The description provided here does not include Chatham Island plants - those are probably sufficiently distinct from Muehlenbeckia australis to warrant separate taxonomic recognition.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 29 April 2022. Description by P.J. de lange (29 April 2022).
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Muehlenbeckia australis Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/muehlenbeckia-australis/ (Date website was queried)