Metrosideros: iron heart
carminea: Carmine or red-coloured
Current Threat Status
2018 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable
Previous Threat Status
2012 - Not Threatened
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened
Metrosideros carminea W.R.B.Oliv.
Woody long-climbing vine. Mature plants only reproductive. Juvenile foliage hairy, with young growth often pinkish. Adult leaves more or less circular, dark glossy green above, pale green below, surfaces without any obvious glandular spotting. Flowers carmine borne in dense, terminal, fluffy, clusters.
Vascular - Native
Metrosideros diffusa Hook.f.
Endemic. New Zealand: North Island (from Te Paki south to Taranaki in the west and Mahia Peninsula in the east)
Coastal to montane (mainly coastal to lowland). A vine of closed forest and forest margins (often along water ways and on ridge lines, especially on rock outcrops and cliff faces).
Vine up to 15 m (usually less). Bark dark brown to grey, ± tessellated, and flaking in tabular shards. Growth dimorphic, juvenile and climbing vines sparingly branched, mature (adult - reproductive state) heavily branched. Branchlets terete, finely pubescent. Leaves, close-set, coriaceous, petiolate; petioles 1-3 mm. long; lamina of juveniles 10-20 × 8-18 mm, suborbicular, orbicular to broadly ovate, apices obtuse to subacute; adaxially green to dark green, abaxially paler (young foliage (and branchlet growing points) usually pink-tinged), both surfaces finely to distinctly pubescent, hairs pinkish, oil glands conspicuous abaxially not punctate,; adult lamina 15-35 × 7-30 mm, elliptic-oblong, ovate-oblong to broad ovate, apices obtuse to subacute, adaxially dark green and glossy, adaxially paler, ± glossy, ± glabrous. Inflorescences in axillary and/or terminal few- to many-flowered cymose botyria crowded toward apex of branchlets (often obscuring the foliage); peduncles and pedicels finely pubescent, peduncles 20-60 mm long, pedicels 5-10 mm long. Hypanthium urceolate or globose, initially fleshy, finely pubescent, ± glabrescent; calyx lobes 1.8-2.3 mm long, oblong, subacute. Petals 5 × 4 mm, caducous, suborbicular, carmine, shortly clawed, margins ± unevenly crenulate to indistinctly toothed or undulose; stamens numerous 10-15 mm long carmine. Capsule 6-9 mm diameter, subglobose to globose, 3(-4)-valved, exserted, ± woody, dark brown to brown-black when mature.
Adult vines are easily recognised when flowering by the profusion of carmine flowers - quite unlike any other New Zealand rata vine. However, this species is most often found as juveniles, and these have a superficial resemblance to M. perforata. From that species M. carminea can be distinguished by the branch tips and young emergent leaves which are very hairy and tinged pink. Both species have prominent oil glands on their leaves but in M. carminea these are never pitted (punctate) like those of M. perforata.
August - November
Main Flower Colour
Red / Pink
January - April
Easily grown from rooted pieces. Also grown from semi-hardwood cuttings. Indeed adult plants are often propagated from cuttings and while these don't climb they form an excellent small shrub suitable for rockeries and tub or pot culture. Metrosideros carminea is an excellent vine for growing up walls and rock faces, doing best if its roots are planted in a free draining, humus enriched, moist soil, and the plants allowed to climb up into the sun. Metrosideros carminea is frost sensitive and young vines will need to be carefully nurtured until they are well established.
Not Threatened. Metrosideros carminea is however most often found as juveniles, in part because the adult vines (at least in dense forest) are often overlooked as they occur high up in the canopy. In some areas adult vines are heavily browsed by possums.
2n = 22
Where To Buy
Commonly available from most retail nurseries, though often sold as adult cutting grown plants only (these will not climb).
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Wellington, Government Printer.
This page last updated on 21 Dec 2013