Plagianthus regius subsp. chathamicus
Chatham Island ribbonwood
Plagianthus chathamicus Cockayne; Plagianthus betulinus var. chathamicus (Cockayne) Cockayne
Vascular – Native
Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs
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 = 42
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 – Recovering | Qualifiers: CD, IE
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | At Risk – Recovering | Qualifiers: CD, IE
2004 | Serious Decline
Tall tree with soft jagged pointed leaves and long sprays of tiny yellowish flowers and small green fruit that fall as a unit inhabiting the Chatham Islands. Wood soft. No marked juvenile growth form. Leaves 3-7.5cm long, much wider at base.
Endemic. Chatham Islands (Rekohu (Chatham), Rangiauria (Pitt), Mangere, Little Mangere and Rangatira (South East Island))
Found on free draining, fertile soils throughout the main islands. Often an important species on soils derived from limestone, and basalt. This tree avoids poorly drained soils and peat.
Elegant deciduous tree up to 15 m tall. Soft, heart-shaped, serrated, lime green leaves with soft hairs. Flowers greenish, plants dioecious. Fibrous bark that peels in lace-like strips. Flowers from October to February and fruits are produced from December to June.
Plagianthus regius subsp. regius is very similar. It is confined to the three main islands of New Zealand. This subspecies differs from P. regius subsp. chathamicus by the distinctive filiramulate, divaricating juvenile growth habit (absent in subsp. chathamicus).
October - February
December - June
Easily grown from fresh seed. A very fast growing tree ideal for providing quick cover. Does best on free draining, but moist and fertile soils in full sun but can tolerate some shade.
Sheep, cattle and horses browse foliage and seedlings, preventing regeneration. Cattle strip bark, which can kill even large trees. Pigs root up seedlings and saplings and may browse them as well. Possums browse foliage, flowers and seedlings. Land clearance for farming and fire pose additional threats.
plagianthus: Oblique or lop-sided flower (petals uneven at the base)
chathamicus: From the Chathams
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2003.
References and further reading
de Lange, P.J. 2008: Plagianthus regius subsp. chathamicus (Malvaceae) - a new combination for the Chatham Islands endemic tree. New Zealand Journal of Botany 46: 381-386.
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Plagianthus regius subsp. chathamicus Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/plagianthus-regius-subsp-chathamicus/ (Date website was queried)