Pseudowintera colorata is endemic and found throughout the country in coastal to montane areas. It is often found in heavily browsed forests and therefore not threatened. Unpalatable to browsers due to its peppery leaves that are still used in cooking today. Often found in hardwood forest plant communities that include but are not limited to Aristotelia serrata, Pittosporum eugenioides, Pseudopanax arboreus, Podocarpus totara and Fuscospora solandri among others.
The leaves of Horopito are not only useful in flavouring food but are quite showy with some cultivars being bred for the bright colours. The wild variety is blotched red above and coloured white underneath with new leaves in the spring being bright red. Light exposure influences its colour variation and the plants can grow in full sun to shade. More information on the various uses of Horopito can be found here.
Pseudowintera colorata is evergreen and likes moist soil rich in organic matter.
For more information on plant communities, we recommend DOC’s publication Native Plant Communities of the Canterbury Plains.