Olearia multibracteolata Colenso
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 = 108
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 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Small spreading tree bearing dark-green to greyish-green leathery leaves with jagged, spiny margins. Bark flaking in long strips. Leaves 5-12 × 1-2 wide. Flowers numerous, borne in dense clusters toward branchlet apices, bearing white ray florets and yellow disc-florets. Fruits - small winder borne brown seeds, surmounted by a readily detachable, fluffy, yellowish pappus.
Endemic. New Zealand, North, South and Stewart Islands from the Pukeamaru and Herangi Range south.
Lowland to subalpine - montane to subalpine in northern part of range but extending to lowland forest and scrub in South Island part of range. A species of shrublands, river flats and valley heads, also prominent on ridgelines in so called ‘cloud’ forest and ‘goblin forest’. A common riparian species in the montane river systems of the western South Island.
Much branched shrubs to small trees up to 6 × 3 m, usually forming a domed canopy unless growing in dense scrub. Trunk and lower branches covered in orange-grey bark, mature bark often semi-detached and peeling from base upwards in long strips. Branches many to few depending on conditions; branchlets pliant, initially pubescent, becoming glabrous with age, leaves usually clustered toward apices. Leaves long persistent, coriaceous borne on stout petioles 15-22 mm long; lamina 50-120 × 10-20 mm, linear-oblong to lanceolate; apices acute, acuminate, bases truncate, margins undulose, sharply serrate-dentate, teeth spinescent, adaxial surface dark green to fulvous grey-green; ± glabrous (immature and expanding leaves sparsely covered in appressed, fulvous-white tomentum), abaxially paler, finely clad in appressed fulvous-white tomentum), tomentum tending to shed with age. Inflorescence a lateral corymbose panicle, bearing 8-15(-20) capitula. Capitulum 8-12 mm long, 10-12 mm diameter. Pedicels 10-18 mm long, finely invested in fulvous-white to white appressed hairs. Involucre cylindrical, 2-seriate, outer abaxially villous, inner apically ciliate. Florets 15-20. Ray-florets 10-12(-16) pisillate, corolla glabrous, tube 2.2 mm long, ligulate with deflexed white limb 3.1-4.2 x 1.0-1.3 mm, 1-2(-3)-lobed at apex. Disc florets 5-8 per capitulum, hermaphrodite, corolla glabrous, yellow or pink, tube 2.9-3.1 mm long, lobes 5, 1.2-1.5 x 0.5 mm. Seeds (cypselae) 1.7-2.5 mm long, brown, narrowly oblong to narrowly oblong-elliptic or narrowly obovate-elliptic, longitudinally ribbed 3-6×, ribs raised; pappus caducous, 3-4 mm long, fulvous, finely barbellate.
Easily distinguished from all other New Zealand Olearia species on account of the leaves which have serrate-dentate (finely ‘spiny’) undulating margins - a feature earning this species the vernacular ‘mountain holly’. Olearia ilicifolia readily hybridises with O. arborescens (these hybrids are called O. xmacrodonta) and less frequently with O. lacumosa and O. quinquevulnera.
December - February
April - June
Easily grown from semi-hardwood cuttings and fresh seed. Does best in a cool climate (dislikes hot or humid conditions). A beautiful small tree or shrub well suited to a rockery margin. Does best when planted in a well drained, moist, humus enriched soil. Does not tolerate drying out.
olearia: Named after Johann Gottfried Olearius, a 17th-century German scholar, writer of hymns and author of Specimen Florae Hallensis
ilicifolia: Leaves like holly (Ilex)
Some botanist regard North and South Island populations of Olearia ilicifolia as distinct and warranting some level of taxonomic recognition. This matter requires further critical investigation.
Fact Sheet prepared for the NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (25 January 2015). Description mostly based on observations made from fresh and dried specimens with the seed (cypselae) description adapted from Webb & Simpson (2001).
References and further reading
Webb, C.J.; Simpson, M.J.A. 2001: Seeds of New Zealand Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Christchurch, Manuka Press.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Olearia ilicifolia Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/olearia-ilicifolia/ (Date website was queried)