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Coprosma: from the Greek kopros 'dung' and osme 'smell', referring to the foul smell of the species, literally 'dung smell'
Current Threat Status
2012 - At Risk - Declining
Previous Threat Status
2009 - At Risk - Declining
2004 - Gradual Decline
2012 - CD, RF
2009 - CD, RF
Coprosma wallii Petrie
Bushy dark green shrub or small tree with orange under-bark and many very wide-angled branches bearing groups of pairs of small oval leaves and bulging purple fruit. Leaves 5-10mm long, nearly as wide as long, with a triangular hairy ridge on the fuzzy stem between leaf bases. Seeds nearly round.
Vascular - Native
Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands. In the North Island, rather local and with a predominantly eastern distribution from the Ripia River Headwaters to Wairarapa, with only two western populations at Erua and Paengaroa In in the South Island much more widespread in both the east and west (with new populations still being discovered mainly in the west and south). On Stewart Island, only recently (2000) discovered and still only known from one location.
Occupies a range of habitats from seasonally flooded, alluvial forest prone to very cold winters and dry summers, to riparian forest and subalpine scrub, or as a component of grey scrub or mixed Podocarp forest developed on steeply sloping basaltic or andesitic rock. The key feature of the majority of C. wallii habitat is that the substrates are rather fertile and the vegetation is limited by frost, water logging, or severe summer drought. Never associated with broad-leaved canopy trees.
Shrub to small tree (1.8-)2(-3) m. Trunk stout, clad in dark bubbly bark, under bark dark red. Branches stout, erect then spreading, somewhat pagodiform, branchlets stout, subtetragonous, densely clad in short, appressed, antrorse ruffous hairs. Petioles pubescent, c.1 mm. Seedling and juvenile leaves, rhomboid to ovate-oblong, densely clad in long, dark, rufous appressed hairs. Adult leaves leathery, glabrous, 5-9 x 5-7 mm, broad-ovate to suborbicular, broadly ovate-oblong, obtuse, subtruncate at base, dark green to green, upper surface very shiny, veins not evident, under sides paler, midrib and secondary veins evident. Flowers 1(-2-3) on short branchlets. Male without calyx, corolla short, broadly campanulate, lobes broad-ovate, acute. Female corolla funnelform, lobes triangular, acute, Drupe ovoid, didymous, 3 x 4.5 mm, dark violet black to black.
Easily recognised through a combination of its tall shrub to small tree habit, dark red under bark, leafy branches bearing numerous rather dark green, shiny, small leaves, and by the dark violet-black strongly twinned (didymous) fruits.
Fruit may be present throughout the year. However, they are most conspicuous between March and May
Easy from fresh seed. Can be grown from semi-hardwood cuttings. Quite fast growing, doing best in fertile, moist alluvial soils but once established remarkably tolerant of a wide variety of soils and moisture regimes.
Although not as threatened as once believed, several North and South Island populations are in vulnerable habitats or persist as remnant stands within rough pasture and/or along roadsides. In these sites recruitment is limiting or absent. Weeds remain a long term threat at virtually all known habitats. As a somewhat cryptic plant it is also vulnerable through the failure to recognise it. Some populations on track sides and near popular scenic attractions have been damaged by track maintence and in one site the erection of a toilet block.
2n = 132
Where To Buy
Not commercially available.
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Wellington, Government Printer
Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309
This page last updated on 2 Jul 2014