Pseudopanax arboreus


Pseudopanax: false cure
arboreus: From the Latin arbor 'tree', meaning tree-like

Common Name(s)

Fivefinger, five finger, whauwhaupaku

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Pseudopanax arboreus (L.f.) Allan



Brief Description

Small bushy tree with glossy green fleshy toothed leaves arranged in fans of 5 (occ. up to 7) leaflets. Fruit purple, in obvious clusters

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Panax arboreus Murray, Panax arboreus Murray var. arboreus, Neopanax arboreus (Murray) Philipson var. arboreus, Pseudopanax arboreus (Murray) Philipson


Endemic. Widespread (though rare in Central Otago). North and South Islands


Coastal to montane (10-750 m a.s.l.). Moist broadleaf forest. Frequently epiphytic. A frequent component of secondary forest. Streamsides and forest margins.


Us. Dioecious. Small multi-branched tree to 8 m tall, branches and branchlets brittle. Leaves alternate, leaflets 5-7 (us. 5), palmate. Petioles c. 15-20 cm long, sheathing branchlet at base. Petiolules c. 3-5 cm long, pale green. Leaflets obovate-oblong to oblong-cuneate, thinly coriaceous, coarsely serrate-dentate, acute or acuminate to obtuse; midveins and main lateral veins obvious above and below; teminal lamina 10-20 x 4-7 cm. Inflorescence and panicle, terminal, compound; flowers usually unisexual; 8-20 primary rays (branchlets), up to 10 cm long; 15-20 secondary rays; umbellules with 10-15 flowers in each. Calyx truncate or obscurely 5-toothed; flowers c. 5 mm diam., sweet-scented; petals 5, white to pink flushed, ovate to triangular, acute; stamens 5, obvious, filaments c. = petals; ovary 2-loculed, each containing 1(-2) ovules; style branches 2, spreading. Fruit fleshy, 5-8 mm diam., style branches retained on an apical disc, very dark purple, laterally compressed. Seeds 2(-3) per fruit, wrinkled, 3-6 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Similar to other Pseudopanax species, but has a greater number of leaflets borne on distinct petiolules. Vegetatively similar to Schefflera digitata (pate) which has thinner, finely serrate and larger leaflets with usually 7 leaflets per leaf.


June to August

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White


August to February

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh, cleaned, seed


Not Threatened. In places the petiolules of Pseudopanax arboreus (and other fleshy-leaved Pseudopanax species) are a conspicuous element of possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) diet and the forest floor can become littered with discarded leaflets.

Chromosome No.

2n = 48

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Taxonomic notes

This species was transferred back to Neopanax Allan by: Frodin, D.G.; Govaerts, R. 2003: World Checklist and Bibliography of Araliaceae, The Cromwell Press, European Union.


Description adapted from Allan (1961) and Webb and Simpson (2001).

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961. Flora of NZ, Vol.  I. Government Printer, Wellington

Webb, C.J. & Simpson, M.J.A. 2001. Seeds of NZ gymnosperms and dicotyledons. Manuka Press, Christchurch.

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014