Coprosma robusta | Karamū

Drainage:DampVery DryWell Drained
Height Range:4
Site Conditions:CoastalExposedFrost TolerantSandy SoilWindy
Spread Range:2
Sunlight:Full SunPartial Shade
Features:Attractive foliageAttractive to beesAttractive to BirdsAttractive to insectsEvergreenSuitable for HedgingSuitable for Revegetation SpeciesSuitable for ShelterTolerant of Shade


Coprosma robusta is endemic and commonly known as Karamū. It is a fast-growing shrub that is ideal as a pioneer plant in revegetation projects.  It can survive in many climates, but is most commonly found in coastal areas, lowland forests, or shrublands. Its wide, bright green leaves are thick, smooth, and shiny. Can be confused with C. lucida, as they share the same name in Te Reo, but the leaf of C. robusta has a less pointy tip and the midrib does not form a ridge on the upper leaf surface. Those are both qualities of C. lucida.

As with other Coprosma species, their berries are ideal for attracting birds, especially bellbirds, tuis and waxeye. This is one of the many reasons why Coprosma robusta is a pioneer revegetation species. Bird attracting plants help increase biodiversity because the bird droppings contain seeds of other plant species that may not have been planted for the project.

In Canterbury, Coprosma robusta is found on Banks Peninsula in fragments of regenerating native bush and bush remnants. Additionally, it is also found in forest margins of the montane and lowland forests in the southern alps at the start of the Canterbury Plains. Karamū can also be found in the urban environment of many Christchurch city green spaces including city parks and suburban gardens. Normally, Karamū is a hardy plant that can adapt to infertile soils, poorly drained and exposed lands. It can grow in various climates under full sun to shady, windy and frosty circumstances. If there is any frost or browsing damage, they grow quite quickly in spring to make up for it.

Karamū is used for a variety of purposes in human culture. The fruit that Coprosma robusta produces can be eaten, and the shoots of Karamū are sometimes used for medical purposes.

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