Coprosma robusta


Coprosma: from the Greek kopros 'dung' and osme 'smell', referring to the foul smell of the species, literally 'dung smell'
robusta: sturdy

Common Name(s)

karamu, glossy karamu

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


Coprosma robusta Raoul



Brief Description

Large bushy shrub with pairs of glossy leaves which have a small dark-tipped flap on the stem between the leaf bases. Leaves 7-12cm long, with a prominent ridge up the middle underneath and a furrow up the middle above. Fruit red, in tight clusters along twigs.

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


?Coprosma coffaeoides Colenso


Endemic. North and South Islands. Naturalised on the Chatham Islands within a small area between Waitangi and Owenga.


Common throughout coastal, lowland and lower montane habitats within shrublands and open sites within forest.


Shrub or small tree up to 6 m tall. Branches numerous, stout, erect to somewhat spreading. Petioles stout, 10-20 mm long. Stipules fused towards base, obtuse, glabrous with one of two prominent, black, glandular denticles. Leaves 70-120 x 30-40-50 mm, leathery, dark green above, paler green beneath, glabrous, elliptic, elliptic-oblong to broad-ovate, acute or obtuse, apex mucronate. Venation reticulated, conspicuous. Male flowers in axillary many-flowered glomerules, corolla conspicuous, lobes triangular, acute, stamens 4-5, prominent. Females in compound clusters on peduncles 10-15 mm. Calyx and corolla much reduced, stigmas prominent. Drupe dark orange (rarely yellow), 8-8 x 4-5 mm, oblong to narrow-ovoid.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from all the other lowland, large-leaved Coprosma spp., by the seemingly entire leaves, which are finely toothed along the margins - this can be felt by dragging a finger tips along the leaf edge. Perhaps closest to Coprosma macrocarpa subsp. minor, with which it freely hybridizes, and from which the more simple leaf venation (not so reticulate), finely toothed leaf margins are useful distinctions.


(July-) August-September (-November)

Flower Colours



(March-) April-May (-July)

Propagation Technique

Very easy from fresh seed. Also easy from semi-hardwood cuttings. Fast growing and inclined to become weedy.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 44

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commonly cultivated but often naturalising from urban indigenous vegetation remnants. Fruit bird dispersed. Heavily fruiting females (which are often apomictic) can be very spectacular.

Fact Sheet Citation

Please cite as:  de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of Access): Coprosma robusta Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=1733 (Date website was queried)


Fact sheet prepared by Peter J. de Lange (30 August 2004). Description adapted from Allan (1961).

This page last updated on 3 Jul 2019