Coprosma elatirioides

  • Grebe valley, Fiordland. January
  • Grebe valley, Fiordland. January
  • Male flower
  • Taken at Aparima Valley, Southland
  • Aparima Valley, Southland
  • Swampy Summit, Dunedin
  • Fruit from Swampy Summit, Otago
  • Male flower
  • Stipule
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Coprosma elatirioides


Coprosma: from the Greek kopros 'dung' and osme 'smell', referring to the foul smell of the species, literally 'dung smell'

Common Name(s)

none known

Current Threat Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Previous Threat Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Coprosma elatirioides de lange et A.Markey



Brief Description

A low wide-angled bushy shrub with small narrow leaves inhabiting open damp areas in the South Island. Twigs long slender and flexible, covered in short fuzz. Leaves curved sideways, very narrow, around 10mm long, with tiny clustered hairs on underside (lens needed), margin red. Fruit white with blue flecks.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native


None (first described in 2003)


Endemic. South and Stewart Islands.


Lowland to subalpine, favouring open swamps, mires, pakihi, and associated poorly drained soils, often in wetland systems dominated by red tussock (Chionochloa rubra) and/or wire rush (Empodisma minus).


Semi-erect to prostrate, shortly rhizomatous, evergreen, dioecious, trailing shrub up to 0.5-1 x 2-6(-8) m. Main stems 2 or more, up to 40 mm diam., arising from a dense network of lateral roots, buried stems and short-rhizomes; branches numerous, wiry, slender, lianoid, long-trailing, arising at angles of > 45 deg, frequently rooting at nodes. Mature outer bark rust-brown or maroon-brown; inner bark lime-green to green yellow. Brachyblasts numerous, very leafy; internodes 0.1-0.2 mm, scarcely visible, obscured by leaves and stipules. Leaves opposite, linear-filiform, falcate, coriaceous; petioles scarcely differentiated from lamina; lamina often falcate, 0.2-0.5 mm long, crimson or dark green, (4-)10(-30) x (0.3-)0.6(-1.2) mm, margins involute, apex obtuse, base attenuate. Leaf colour usually wine-red, sometimes light green or dark green with red margins, adaxial surface bearing patent, deciduous eglandular hairs (40x magnification); leaf domatia common, 1-3 per leaf when present; midrib scarcely evident. Stipules 0.3-0.6 mm long, orange-brown or purple, shortly sheathing, sheath < 1/4 length of stipule and apical denticle, narrowly triangular, marginal fringe chartaceous, dark abaxial surface heavily invested in white hairs, 0.1-0.5 mm long; margin of stipules entire; denticles (3-)5(-6), glandular, black, deciduous; with 1-2 at apex of stipule, and (1-)3(-4) on stipule sheath. Plants unisexual; flowers subsessile, axillary, solitary or paired in uppermost leaves of previous growth flush. Pedicel minute. Male flowers mostly paired; calyx vestigial; corolla 5-6 mm long; tube 1.5-2 mm long, funnelform, pale yellow copiously flecked with red or pink; lobes 3-4, broadly elliptic or lanceolate, 4.5-5 x 1.6-1.8 mm, recurved; filaments 4-6 mm long, cream; anthers 3-4, 2.5-3 x 1-1.5 mm, oblong, apex acute or attenuated; pollen creamy yellow. Female flowers mostly solitary; calyx adnate to ovary, pale yellow flecked crimson or pink; lobes 4, 0.75- 1 mm long, obovate to oblanceolate, basal portion pale yellow flecked with red fading to pale yellow in upper portion; corolla tube 2-2.5 mm long, narrowly campanulate, yellow, striped and/or flecked red; lobes 3-4, linear-lanceolate to lanceolate 2.5-3 x 0.6 mm, strongly decurved; ovary ovoid, green, 0.8-1 x 0.6-0.8 mm; stigmas 2, 8- 14 mm long, terete, pale yellow to cream, densely papillose-pubescent. Drupe ellipsoid, 4-6 x 3-4 mm, white stippled with dark blue flecks (rarely entirely dark navy blue); calyx persistent. Pyrenes (1-)2, unequal; the larger (2.5-)3.0(-4.5) x 1.8-2.5 mm, ovoid to ellipsoid, plano-convex, apex obtuse, rarely acute; base obtuse to acute; operculum distinct, obovate-obtriangular.

Similar Taxa

Differs from the vegetatively similar C. intertexta by its long-trailing, subscandent, almost lianoid habit; longer branchlets; shortly sheathing conspicuously denticulate stipules; fleshy coriaceous, adaxially pubescent leaves with obtuse apices; and its restriction to wetlands. From other Coprosmas it differs by its long trailing, non-flexuous, wiry branchlets, stipule characters, and its habitat preference.


October - November

Main Flower Colour


Other Flower Colour

Red / Pink


March - July

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh fruit and cuttings. An excellent wetland plant.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 44

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family




References and further reading

Markey, A.S.; de Lange, P.J. 2003: A new species of Coprosma Sect. Acerosae (Rubiaceae) endemic to the South and Stewart Islands of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 41: 459-473.

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 15 Aug 2014

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