Dracophyllum traversii

  • Te Moehau, November
  • Mt Arthur, January
  • Mt Arthur, September
  • Mt Arthur, September
  • At Mt Arthur, September
  • Mt Arthur, September


Dracophyllum traversii


Dracophyllum: dragon leaf, from its likeness to the dragon tree of the Canary Islands
traversii: Named after William Thomas Locke Travers (1819-1903) who was an Irish lawyer, magistrate, politician, explorer, naturalist, photographer. He lived in New Zealand from 1849 and was a fellow of the Linnean Society.

Common Name(s)

mountain neinei, grass tree, pineapple tree

Current Threat Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Previous Threat Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Dracophyllum traversii Hook.f.



Brief Description

Robust small tree with clusters of broad grass-like curved leaves at the end of stout branches. Bark flaky red brown. Leaves 90-300mm long by 40-50mm wide, piling up underneath plant, greyish when young. Flowers in a large pyramid-shaped cluster at the tip of branches. Fruit a dry capsule.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native


Dracophyllum pyramidale W.R.B.Oliv.


Endemic. New Zealand: North and South Islands. In the North Island scattered from Waima Forest south to near Taumarunui, East Cape and the southern Central Volcanic Plateau. In the South Island mostly westerly from North West Nelson to Central Otago and eastern Fiordland.


A shrub or a tree 0.2–13.0 m tall. Branches form an open candelabrum–shaped crown. Bark on old branches light brown, flaky, young stems reddish brown. Leaves crowded at tips of branches in a bromelioid manner, lamina sheath light green to light brown, 30–70 × 30–50 mm, coriaceous, striate, tapering, margins membranous, smooth; lamina coriaceous, sometimes with a glaucous bloom, linear–triangular to lanceolate, 90–860 × 17–50 mm, surfaces glabrous, prominently striated; margins cartilaginous, serrulate with 18–20 teeth per 10 mm. Inflorescence shorter than the leaves, dense, 180–400 mm long, pyramidal and densely branched; rachis and pedicels pubescent to hirsute, light green to reddish; inflorescence axis 13.0–16.5 mm in diameter; basal inflorescence branch 30–60 mm long, suberect to at right angles with inflorescence axis; inflorescence bracts caducous, over-topping flowers, light green, whitish at base and pink–tipped to entirely pink, broadly ovate at base, 130–240 × 25–50 mm, surfaces glabrous, margins minutely ciliate. Flowers 500–3000+, in groups of more than 10 at base of inflorescence, pedicellate; bracteoles caducous, recaulescent, deciduous, with one bracteole situated just below the perianth and the other in the middle of the pedicel, shorter than flower, 4.0–4.8 × 0.5–0.7 mm, glabrous; pedicels straight, 0.5–2.0 mm long, pubescent to tomentose. Sepals red to occasionally green, ovate to broadly ovate, 1.2–3.0 × 1.1–2.5 mm, equaling corolla tube, striate, surfaces glabrous; margins ciliate; apices subacute to obtuse. Corolla red, tube sometimes white; corolla tube broadly campanulate, widened at mouth, 2.7–3.0 × 4–5 mm; corolla lobes reflexed, oblong, longer than corolla tube, 2.5–2.8 × 2.0–2.5 mm; apices obtuse; surfaces glabrous. Stamens inserted at top of corolla tube, filaments 1.0–1.5 mm long; anthers exserted, oblong, pink turning light yellow with age and 1.8–2.0 mm long. Ovary subglobose, 1.4–1.5 × 1.8–2.0 mm, glabrous, apex round; nectary scales oblong, 1.0–1.5 long and wide, apices retuse; style exserted, 2–3 mm long, glabrous, lengthening in fruit; stigma five–lobed. Fruit not included in persistent calyx, reddish to purplish brown, 1.9–2.0 × 2.8–3.0 mm, depressed–globose; apex round, glabrous. Seeds yellowish brown, ovoid, 0.95–1.0 mm long, testa slightly reticulate.

Similar Taxa

Dracophyllum traversii is easily recognised by the candelabra–shaped growth habit, bark flaking in large pieces, broad strongly curved leaves, glaucescent young leaves, stout panicle with red flowers having the corolla lobes longer than the corolla tube and capsules 2.8–3.0 mm in diameter. It is most similar to Dracophyllum latifolium from which it differs by its more robust growth habit, serrulate rather than serrate to denticulate leaf margins bearing 18-20 rather than 12-30 teeth on their margins; longer and wider sepals (2–3 × 2.0–2.5 mm cf. 0.7–1.5 × 1.0–1.7 mm), with the upper surface glabrous rather than pubescent and the margins rather than toothed in the upper third; by the long corolla tube (2.7–3.0 × 4–5 mm cf. 1.5–2.0 × 1.5–2.5 mm), wide corolla lobes (2.5–2.8 × 2.0–2.5 mm cf. 1.5–2.0 × 1.5–2.0 mm), and subglobose rather than ovate ovary. The seeds of D. traversii are smaller than those of D. latifolium (0.95–1.0 mm cf. 1.2–1.3 mm).



Main Flower Colour


Other Flower Colour




Propagation Technique

Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild. Don't be tempted - take photographs instead! Dracophyllum traversii is occasionally stocked by specialist nurseries (take care though to check the soil surrounding the rootstock to see if the plants on offer have been dug from the wild, as plants dug from the wild often persist for a few months before dying), and if grown from seed such plants may occasionally thrive in cultivation. Does best in a semi-shaded site, planted in a humus enriched, moist (not water logged) soil.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 26

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally available from specialist native plant nurseries.


References and further reading

Venter, S. 2009: A taxonomic revision of the genus Dracophyllum Labill. (Ericaceae). Unpublished Phd Thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington.

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 14 Aug 2014

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