Quintinia acutifolia Kirk, Quintinia elliptica Hook.f.
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 = 44
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
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Tree with spotted twigs bearing wavy purple-spotted leaves and spikes of small whiteish flowers which develop into a dry capsule. Twigs with circular scales (lens needed). Leaves 20-160mm long by 10-50mm wide, margin smooth or with scattered teeth, edge wavy.
Endemic. New Zealand: North and South Islands (from about Kaitaia south to Wellington; in the South Island mostly westerly in the South Island to about Martins Bay)
Coastal to montane usually in forest, in the northern part of its range often confined to cooler valley heads and ridge lines or prominent on the summits of major ranges and peaks (in so called “cloud forest”). In the southern part of its range extending into coastal forest where it may form a major part of the forest understorey and/or canopy in disturbed sites
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).
UPL: Obligate Upland
Rarely is a hydrophyte, almost always in uplands (non-wetlands).
Small tree up to 12 m tall; trunk up to 500 mm d.b.h. Bark greyish-white to grey-brown, often mottled and covered with small lichens, mosses and liverworts. branches ascending. Young branchlets, leaves, peduncles and pedicels ± viscid and invested with lepidote ± scurfy scales. Leaves alternate, exstipulate, yellow-green to dark green usually blotched dark maroon sometimes not, borne on petioles up to 20 mm long; lamina 20-160 × 10-50 mm, narrowly lanceolate, oblanceolate, narrowly oblong, elliptic, broadly elliptic-obovate to obovate-cuneate, apex obtuse, subacute to acute, margins weakly to strongly undulose or flat, obscurely to distinctly serrate, or entire (if serrate then serration apices distinctly glandular). Inflorescences racemose, axillary or terminal. Racemes 35-80 mm long, pedicels c.3-4 mm long; Flowers gynodioecious, 3-7 mm diameter, calyx tube adnate to ovary, lobes persistent; petals 1.5-3·5 mm long, white to whitish-pink, obovate-oblong, narrow ovate to ovate-oblong, imbricate; female flowers with 5 rudimentary stamen (often reduced to staminodes, sometimes completely absent); ovary 3-5-celled, style persistent; stigmas capitate, 3-5-lobed; hermaphrodite flowers similar but with 5 functional stamens and functional gynoecium. Capsules 3-5-valved, 4-6 mm long, including style, obovoid, ellipsoid or oblong. Seeds 1.3-2.0 mm long, narrowly ovate, elliptic, ovate-elliptic to oblong, compressed, surface glabrous, finely reticulate with elongated cells, orange-brown to brown.
None. The distinctive maroon mottled yellowish green leaves, scurfy, lepidote scales covering the young branchlets, leaves, peduncles and pedicels, and white to pinkish-white flowers borne in racemes readily distinguish Quintinia from any other New Zealand indigenous tree.
September - March
November - June
Difficult. Best grown from fresh seed although results vary. Does well in a shaded or semi-shaded situation planted in a deep, moist, fertile soil. Plants are prone to sudden collapse, especially during periods of drought. However, as with seed germination results vary and some people find cultivation of Quintinia easy, others not.
quintinia: Named after the 17th century French horticulturist Jean (Johannis) de la Quintinie (Quintinye)
Where To Buy
Occasionally offered by specialist native plant nurseries.
Quintinia is extremely variable and some extremes have been known by the species names Q. acutifolia and Q. elliptica. In this Fact Sheet the view expressed by Eagle (1982, 2006) and Dawson & Lucas (2011) is followed, in that one species, Q. serrata is accepted. However, a proper study of the variation in Quintinia is still needed to confirm that there is indeed just the one species. The main distinguishing character between the three species accepted by Allan (1961) leaf shape, varies sometimes within populations but definitely from north to south and east to west, suggesting the three species are part of a natural cline. Interestingly Webb & Simpson (2001) maintain two species (Q. acutifolia and Q. serrata) on the basis of minor differences in seed size; they do not accept Q. elliptica which they consider indistinguishable from Q. acutifolia.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange January 2012. Description adapted from Allan (1961), Dawson & Lucas (2011) and Webb & Simpson (2001).
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I, Government Printer, Wellington.
Dawson, J.; Lucas, R. 2011: New Zealand’s Native Trees. Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson.
Eagle, A.L. 1982: Eagle’s trees and shrubs of New Zealand, second series. Collins, Auckland.
Eagle, A.L. 2006: Eagle’s complete trees and shrubs of New Zealand. Te Papa Press, Wellington.
Webb, C.J.; Simpson, M.J.A. 2001: Seeds of New Zealand Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Manuka Press, Christchurch.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Quintinia serrata Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/quintinia-serrata/ (Date website was queried)