Myrsine australis

(previously known as Rapanea australis)

Mapou / Red Matipo

Early Māori boiled the leaves of Mapou, using the infusion to treat toothache.
The rigid and brightly coloured stems make this plant popular for use in cut-flowers.

4m high x 2m wide. Wavy yellow-green leaves with red speckles are held on red stems. Usually seen as a shrub rather than a smell tree, as it tends to be leafy right to ground level. Flowers are produced en masse and are carried along the stems, but are not much to look at.

Rigid stems and twigs make Mapou an excellent hedging plant. Performs well in sun or shade, so perfect where buildings or established trees reduce light levels.
Good in informal screen plantings with other shrubby natives. Also useful in revegetation of drier areas, where older plants create a canopy under which more permanent tree species can establish.

Hardy to frost, wind, drought and coastal conditions, but requires some shelter when young. Prone to waterlogging. Most compact when in full sunlight, but grows well in shade also. Prone to waterlogging, so avoid overly wet sites.

Kohuhu (Pittosporum tenuifolium) – twigs are not red; flowers are larger, with dark petals, and fruit is a hard capsule, opening to black sticky seeds.
Golden Akeake (Olearia paniculata) – twigs are not red; flowers are small, highly-fragrant and held in clusters of 50+; bark is stringy.

The flowers attract a profusion of nectar-hungry insects, while the purple-black berries, produced on female plants, are popular with native lizards and birds. These contain important carotenoids that promote bright colouration of the bird plumage as well as providing important anti-oxidants for health and egg strength. Stitchbird (hihi) and waxeye find these berries particularly appealing.

Landcare Research – Maori Plant Use: Myrsine australis
NZ Plant Conservation Network – Myrsine australis
Tiritiri Matangi – Mapou




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