Kaka beak Clianthus maximus

Key Features

  • Branched shrub 1.5-6 m tall with small (1.5-4 cm), paired leaflets and showy, red, hanging flowers that develop into 5-8 cm long pods.
  • Leaves glossy and green.
  • Clianthus puniceus is smaller (to 2 m tall) with smaller, dull, grey-green to olive green leaflets.

Distribution and Habitat

  • Eastern North Island.
  • Lowland disturbed and successional sites such as bluffs, coastal cliffs, river and lake margins and shrublands.


  • Browsing animals, including introduced mammals, snails and slugs.
  • Habitat modification and loss, including natural succession to forest.
  • Catastrophic events such as flood, landslide.
  • Competition with exotic weeds.

Management Opportunities

  • Survey for new locations.
  • Mark known sites.
  • Reintroduction to appropriate sites.
  • Protection of habitat.
  • Protection from browsing animals.
  • Ensure that forest owners are aware of potential habitats and can recognise the species.

Monitoring Options

  • Check existing populations.
  • Report new locations to DOC, NZPCN.

Further Information and Support

  • New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN). http://www.nzpcn.org.nz
  • Pest control - Department of Conservation, Regional Councils.
  • References:
    • Dopson et al. (1999). The conservation requirements of New Zealand’s nationally threatened vascular plants. Threatened Species Occasional Publication 13. Department of Conservation, Wellington.
    • Wilson & Given (1989). Threatened plants of New Zealand. DSIR Publishing, Wellington.
    • Peter de Lange, Peter Heenan, David Norton, Jeremy Rolfe and John Sawyer (2010). Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch. 472 pp.