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Carex uncinata < Species index > Coprosma foetidissima

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This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 93, # 6, July 2021

July in the hills with Michele Dickson and Chris Horne

Coprosma areolata, , Thin-leaved coprosma

Coprosma.jpg: 1044x736, 249k (2021 Jun 25 22:17)
Coprosma areolata, , Thin-leaved coprosma
Photo: Jeremy Rolfe

!!!! Origin of the botanical names ‘Coprosma’ is derived from the Greek words ‘kopros’ meaning ‘dung’ and ‘osme’ meaning ‘smell’, because one of the Coprosma species has an unpleasant smell; ‘areolata’ comes from the Latin word ‘areolus’ meaning ‘open space’ – it refers to the mottled appearance of the leaves. C. areolata is in the same genus as the species of Coprosma described in the last seven issues of the Tramper. The Coprosma genus is a member of the coffee family, the Rubiaceae.

Distribution and habitat

C. areolata is endemic to Aotearoa. It grows on Te Ika a Māui / North Island, on Te Waipounamu / South Island and on Rakiura / Stewart Island. Look for it in lowland to lower montane forest.

Growth habit

Coprosma areolata is a shrub or small tree up to 3–6 m tall with smooth grey bark. The branches are slender and often more or less erect and close to the trunk. The branchlets have fine hairs. The slightly leathery, hairless, rounded leaves, 8-13 x 8-10 mm, with pointed tips, are clustered in opposite pairs on slender, winged, hairy petioles / stalks 3-7 mm long. The reticulated veins are dark on both sides of the leaves giving them a mottled appearance.


Female flowers and male flowers grow on separate plants. The tiny flowers which appear in spring are solitary or 2-4 together at the end of short branchlets. The 4-5 mm diameter fruit / drupe is dark purple to almost black. Birds eat the fruit then spread the seeds.


Coprosma areolata has been used to produce a direct dye which does not require a mordant.

Where can you find Coprosma areolata?

Look for this species in Paekākā / Wellington Botanic Garden, Burrows Avenue and Johnston Hill reserves, Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush and in the Akatarawa, Tararua, Remutaka and Aorangi ranges.

The Coprosma genus.

Articles in The Tramper describe eight of the fifty-eight species in the genus. Many of the others which have tiny leaves are described by Hugh Wilson in his book Small-leaved Shrubs of New Zealand, Manuka Press, 1993. Look for it in second-hand bookshops.

Botany 2021

In The Hills 2021-06 < Index chronological > In The Hills 2021-08

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