Myrsine australis | Māpou

Drainage:DampVery DryWell Drained
Height Range:6
Site Conditions:CoastalExposedFrost TolerantHeavy SoilLoamy SoilSandy SoilWindy
Spread Range:6
Sunlight:Full Sun
Features:Attractive FlowersAttractive foliageAttractive to beesAttractive to BirdsAttractive to insectsEvergreenSuitable for HedgingSuitable for Revegetation SpeciesSuitable for Shelter
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Myrsine australis or Red matipo is found throughout the North, South and Stewart Islands.  It is distributed from sea level to 900m in elevation, preferring forest margins, scrubland and coastal forest. It is an early coloniser when natural regeneration occurs, and as a result, it is commonly used in planted revegetation sites to provide initial cover for the establishment of longer-lived plants. It naturally lives in a variety of plant communities. For more information on plant communities, we recommend DOC’s publication Native Plant Communities of the Canterbury Plains.

Myrsine australis is a small shrub or tree, growing from 3–6 metres tall with short upright branches that create a compact crown. The trunk grows up to 20 cm in diameter, with the bark of the trunk and older branches a dark brown/black, whereas the juvenile branches are reddish, a distinguishing feature of this plant. The leaves are coloured pale green and have a leathery texture.  The leaf margins of Canterbury sourced plants are wavy.  Māpou tends to flower between August and January, and produces fruit between September and May. Its inconspicuous flowers are clustered on small stalks and are cream to whitish colour. The dark brown to black fruits are drupes and are commonly dispersed by kereru, tui, silvereye, bellbird, and blackbird.

Before European colonisation,  Myrsine australis would have been common throughout all of lowland New Zealand. The species is now, however, commonly found within revegetation and riparian planting areas throughout the country, and is a useful hedge plant.  Red matipo is one of a number of New Zealand native plants that commonly persists beneath the canopy on pine plantations.  Once established, it is drought and frost tolerant. Tolerates most conditions.


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