Pittosporum patulum

Key Features

  • A small, slender tree to 5 m.
  • Juveniles have narrow, dark, leathery, lobed leaves 2-5 cm long. In adults, the leaves are 4-7 cm long and up to 1 cm wide, with slightly toothed or smooth margins, and are crowded toward the tips of branches.
  • Flowers are dark red and fragrant and give rise to a two-valved capsule.
  • Pittosporum patulum is mainly dioecious, i.e. separate male and female plants.

Distribution and Habitat

  • Northern South Island and head valleys of Clutha and Waitaki catchments.
  • Occurs in montane beech forest, often associated with natural disturbance.


  • Highly susceptible to browse from deer, goats, possums.
  • Habitat loss.
  • Lack of pollination due to sex-ratio imbalance.
  • Lack of birds to disperse fruit.

Management Opportunities

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

Monitoring Options

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

Further Information and Support

  • New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN). http://www.nzpcn.org.nz
  • Possum control - Department of Conservation, Regional Councils.
  • References:
    • Townsend, A.J. (1999). Pittosporum patulum recovery plan 1999-2009. Threatened Species Recovery Plan 28. Department of Conservation, Wellington.
    • Dopson et al. (1999). The conservation requirements of New Zealand’s nationally threatened vascular plants. Threatened Species Occasional Publication 13. Department of Conservation, Wellington.
    • Poole & Adams (1994). Trees and shrubs of New Zealand. Maanaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
    • Wilson & Galloway (1993). Small-leaved shrubs of New Zealand. Manuka Press, Christchurch.
    • Peter de Lange, Peter Heenan, David Norton, Jeremy Rolfe and John Sawyer 2010: Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch. 472 pp.