[Most of the photos are from the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network website; permission is necessary to use them for publication or other website purposes; (GW) = Geoff Walls photo]




Trees and shrubs



Olearia paniculata

Tree daisy with thickish wavy leaves (pale underneath), stringy bark and masses of small brown flowers; grows from the coast to the mountains


Beech trees

Red beech (Nothofagus fusca) is a large tree that has toothed leaves and grows in cool valleys. Black beech (N. solandri var. solandri) is a tree of the lowlands, having small oval leaves and often black-trunked because of honeydew production. Mountain beech (N. solandri var. cliffortioides) is a tough upland tree with small spade-shaped leaves, often the main tree forming the timberline. Leaf images (not to scale):

Red beech        Black beech     Mountain beech



Griselinia littoralis

Gnarled tree with oval thick leaves; lives to a great age, fairly fire-resistant, grows from the coast to the mountains


Cabbage tree

Cordyline australis

Much revered New Zealand tree, found from the shore to the feet of the mountains; traditionally used as food (growing shoots, younger stems and roots) and for fibre purposes (nets, baskets, etc), also as settlement markers


Common native broom

Carmichaelia australis

Leafless khaki shrub, widespread in the northern South Island (GW)


Coprosma propinqua

Tough, abundant and versatile small-leaved shrub with clear/blue (sometimes white or yellow) berries adapted for birds and lizards

Coprosma linariifolia

Small erect tree with narrow leaves; relatively uncommon, normally associated with beech forest


Coprosma rhamnoides

Small-leaved shrub common under beech and kanuka forest; fruit usually deep red


Fierce lancewood

Pseudopanax ferox

A small tree like lancewood but much less common; the juvenile phase has leaves that look savagely spiky

Hall’s totara, Mountain totara

Podocarpus hallii

Montane tree with sharp leaves and small delectable fruit; lives to a great age; much used for its durable timber in the past



Kunzea ericoides

Common pioneer tree with small soft leaves (eucalypt scent when crushed); often the main provider of “manuka” honey



Pittosporum tenuifolium

A common small tree with smallish wavy leaves; has night-scented flowers and pods with sticky seeds



Corokia cotoneaster

Distinctive shrub with black zigzag twig pattern, small leaves with silvery undersides, yellow starry flowers and yellow-to-red berries; often an indicator of former beech forest



Hebe traversii (left), H. stenophylla (right)

Shrubs with narrow leaves, growing on riverbanks and rock outcrops




Pseudopanax crassifolius

The sabre-leaved juvenile turns into a tree with smallish leaves and gnarled furrowed trunks once it grows to about 3m tall (out of reach of browsing moa) (GW)



Leptospermum scoparium

Pioneer shrub or small tree with small prickly leaves (lemon scent when crushed); provider of “manuka” honey and essential oil. Uncommon on Spray Point (GW)



Discaria toumatou

New Zealand’s only spiny bush; a nitrogen fixer; provider of delectable spring honey


Mountain lacebark

Hoheria lyallii

Deciduous small subalpine tree with showy white summer flowers


Mountain wineberry

Aristotelia fruticosa

Tough small-leaved subalpine shrub; hybridises with wineberry where they meet



Helichrysum lanceolatum

Small shrub often beneath beech and kanuka forests; flowers with honey-like scent


Northern pink broom

Carmichaelia carmichaeliae

Leafless small tree with pink flowers, endemic to a geographically restricted part of South Marlborough (between the Wairau and Awatere Rivers); highly endangered (Cathy Jones)


Porcupine shrub

Melicytus. alpinus

Very tough shrub, in the violet family (GW)


Prickly mingimingi

Leptecophylla juniperina

Bush with pale prickly leaves and edible though floury fruit that can be white, red or black; usually beneath beech and kanuka forests


Prostrate kowhai

Sophora prostrata

Tough tangled bush with small leaves and golden flowers; resistant to browsing and can live long (GW)


Putaputaweta, Marble-leaf

Carpodetus serratus

Smallish tree with mottled leaves and small green fruits; often host to Brittle/Green mistletoe


Sprawling fuchsia, Climbing fuchsia

Fuchsia perscandens

Shrub with climbing tendencies, of shady places; hybridises with tree fuchsia; uncommon and localised



Pittosporum eugenioides

Broadleaved tree with pale green leaves with wavy edges and heavily fragrant yellow flowers; lowland-montane forests




Ozothamnus leptophyllus

Small-leaved shrub daisy, common in scrub


Tree fuchsia, Kotukutuku

Fuchsia excorticata

Smallish deciduous tree of gullies; has flowers with blue pollen and sweet nectar, also highly edible fruit, so very good for native birds


Tree kowhai

Sophora microphylla

Tree usually found on riverbanks or valley flanks, often associated with rock outcrops. Yellow flowers in spring, attractive to nectar feeders. Has a tangled shrubby juvenile phase (GW)


Weeping matipo

Myrsine divaricata

Upright shrub with weeping (down-turned) branchlets, small heart-shaped leaves and small purple fruit; unusual to occur in dry South Marlborough



Aristotelia serrata

Deciduous tree of lowland and montane gullies with large serrated-edge leaves, pink lantern-like flowers and black berries much sought after by birds


Yellow-flowered shrub daisy

Brachyglottis monroi

Shrub with crinkly leaves and bright yellow flowers, usually growing on rock outcrops and forming rounded bushes; endemic to South Marlborough/North Canterbury


Climbers (vines)


Bush lawyer

Rubus cissoides, R. schmidelioides

Climbers in the rose family, hooking onto other vegetation (and people) with prickles; elongated leaves (arranged singly in R. cissoides and in threes in R. schmidelioides), small white flowers and raspberry-like fruits; called “lawyer” for not willingly letting go once the hooks are in...



Clematis forsteri

A widespread species, variable in leaf shape, often found in shrublands


Leafless clematis

Clematis afoliata

Wiry smooth-stemmed climber superficially resembling common native broom; spectacular creamy flowers; forms dense clumps



Small native jasmine

Parsonsia capsularis

A climber with long narrow leaves and seed pods and small white flowers, common in dry shrublands



Muehlenbeckia australis

Vigorous climber that naturally fills gaps (“nature’s sticking plaster”) capable of smothering other plants if not checked; hosts a suite of native insects; has flowers and fruit attractive to native birds and lizards



Muehlenbeckia complexa

Wiry small-leaved common plant that climbs if allowed but forms tight bushes if grazed or exposed to harsh conditions; hosts a suite of native insects; has flowers and fruit attractive to native birds and lizards




Brittle mistletoe, Green mistletoe

Tupeia antarctica

Hemi-parasite (it can make its own food but is after a perch and moisture) most frequently growing on putaputaweta; very edible to possums; has white fruit spotted with pink (GW)





Sun orchid                                                     Spider orchid

Thelymitra longifolia                                       Nematoceras macranthum

Strap-leaved, open sunny sites                       Small, beech forest floors






Pteridium esculentum

Tough fern with underground starch-filled rhizomes, forming a staple diet for Maori in the past; often favoured by wild pigs


Hot rock fern

Cheilanthes distans

An unusual fern adapted to living in rocky places exposed to full sun


Shield ferns

Polystichum richardii (left) and P. vestitum (right)

Ground ferns with rough dark leaves; P. richardii usually on rocks; P. vestitum in valley forest





Bristle tussock

Rytidosperma setifolium

Small bright green tussock with fine, rolled, sharp-pointed leaves


Fescue or hard tussock

Festuca novae-zelandiae

Short, erect, fine-leaved fawn tussock, tolerant of stock


Silver tussock

Poa cita

Common tussock in South Marlborough, tolerant of grazing and of benefit to sheep as shelter (GW)


Snow tussock

Chionochloa flavescens

Waist-high green tussock of the uplands; vulnerable to stock and feral animals (GW)



Cortaderia richardii

Large robust tussock with sharp-edged leaves and elegant flower spikes; usually in seepages or on streamsides


NZ flaxes and other monocotyledonous plants


Wharariki, Mountain/coastal flax

Phormium cookianum

One of two species of native flaxes, valuable multi-purpose plants traditionally used for baskets, clothing, mats, cords, lashings, cords, food (nectar), flotation (flower stalks) and medicine (gum); nectar and pollen important for native birds, lizards and insects (GW)


Tussock sedge

Carex secta

Trunk-forming swamp tussock, growing in seepages and alongside creeks (GW)


Subalpine and alpine plants


Blue speargrass

Aciphylla glaucescens

Ferocious large speargrass of shady faces and seepages


Golden speargrass

Aciphylla aurea

Fierce large speargrass of dry rocky places (GW)


Pygmy speargrass

Aciphylla monroi

Small alpine speargrass (GW)


Heliohebe raoulii

Small upland relative of NZ lilac with red-edged leaves (GW)


Coral daisy, Coral plant

Helichrysum coralloides

Compact alpine shrub daisy with pale yellow flowers, found only in a limited portion of the South Marlborough mountains (GW)


Dwarf coral daisy, Yellow-flowered coral daisy

Helichrysum parvifolium

Small compact subalpine shrub daisy with bright yellow flowers (GW)


Armstrong’s daisy

Celmisia armstrongii

Quite large mountain daisy with narrow rigid leaves


Cotton daisy

Celmisia spectabilis

Mountain daisy that forms large mats; woolly under the leaves; resistant to fire and stock (GW)


Waihopai daisy

Celmisia insignis

Daisy that grows on rocks only in the Waihopai, Spray, Avon, Omaka and Blairich river catchments, often well below the alpine zone (GW)


Mountain daphne

Pimelea traversii

Small subalpine shrub, superficially like a hebe, with hairy pinkish-white flowers (GW)


Mountain heath

Acrothamnus colensoi (formerly Cyathodes colensoi)

Low sprawling subalpine shrub with small stiff leaves, often purplish and with prominent veins beneath; small pink or red fruit


Mountain snowberry

Gaultheria depressa

Small prostrate subalpine shrub with quite large edible berries (pink or white) (GW)


Native aniseed

Gingidia montana

Highly aromatic tufted herb in the carrot family, formerly common but now usually growing on shady banks out of stock and feral animal reach


Neinei, Turpentine shrub

Dracophyllum uniflorum

Brown subalpine shrub with needle-like leaves and waxy white flowers (GW)


Patotara, Dwarf  heath

Leucopogon fraseri (formerly Cyathodes fraseri)

Very small plant with prickly leaves and edible orange fruit; grows in hot dry montane-alpine places (GW)



Penwiper plant

Notothlaspi rosulatum

Unusual plant of alpine screes, forming low grey rosettes from which emerge beautiful heads of white flowers; in the mustard family


Snow totara

Podocarpus nivalis

Subalpine shrub with small luscious fruit, forming distinctive dense low patches