Dracophyllum scoparium


Dracophyllum: dragon leaf, from its likeness to the dragon tree of the Canary Islands
scoparium: like a broom

Common Name(s)

none known

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - RR


Dracophyllum scoparium Hook.f.



Brief Description

Grassy bright green shrub with many erect twigs bearing clusters of narrow pointed straight leaves are covered on the margin and upper surface with many very small inhabiting Chatham and Campbell Islands. Leaves 30-50mm long by 0.5 to 1mm wide. Flowers white, in clusters of 3-6 at tip of 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


D. scoparium var. paludosum (Cockayne) Cockayne, Dracophyllum paludosum Cockayne; Dracophyllum urvilleanum var. scoparium Hook.f.; Dracophyllum subantarcticum Cockayne nom. nud.


Endemic. New Zealand: Chatham (Rekohu (Chatham Island)) Island and Campbell Islands. Dracophyllum scoparium has been reported from Rangiauria (Pitt Island) (Venter 2009) but there do not seem to be substantiating herbarium specimens. Only tarahinau (Dracophyllum arboreum) seems to grow there, and it is possible that past records of D. scoparium may result from Rangiauria may stem from confusing young shrubs of tarahinau with that species.


The dominant woody shrub of Chatham Island restiad bogs and Campbell Island vegetation - where it has a wider range.


Erect multi–stemmed shrub to small tree, 1–4 m tall. Bark on old branches dark brown to blackish brown, finely fissured, young stems reddish brown. Leaves erect to spreading; lamina sheath 2.0–5.0 × 1.5–4.0 mm, shoulders tapering to truncate and margins membranous and ciliate; lamina 24.0–80.0 × 0.3–1.5 mm, linear to linear–subulate, adaxial surface pubescent, slightly striated; margins ciliate to densely pubescent with 100–120 teeth per 10 mm; apex triquetrous. Inflorescence a terminal spike on lateral branches; shorter than leaves, erect, dense, 13–20 mm long, oblong; inflorescence bract over-topping flower, 1.8–2.0 × 0.9–1.0 mm, ovate–lanceolate at base, adaxial surface glabrous, pubescent at apex; abaxial surface pubescent at base; margins ciliate. Flowers 3–6, sessile. Flower bracts over-topping flowers, 5.0–9.5 × 2.5–4.0 mm, broadly ovate, adaxial surfaces pubescent; margins ciliate. Sepals 2.5–5.0 × 1.5–3.5 mm, oblong, equaling to longer than corolla tube, striate, surfaces glabrous with the top half pubescent; margins ciliate; apices acute to acuminate. Corolla white (rarely pink or cream); corolla tube 3.0–3.5 × 1.3–1.5 mm, cylindrical; corolla lobes reflexed, 1.7–2.5 × 1.2–2.0 mm, triangular, shorter than corolla tube, apex inflexed and acute; adaxial surface papillate. Stamens inserted on corolla tube in the upper third, filaments 0.3–0.5 mm long; anthers included, rectangular, light yellow and 0.9–1.0 mm long. Ovary 0.8–1.0 × 0.9–1.0 mm, obovate, apex round; nectary scales 0.6–0.7 × 0.5–0.6 mm, rectangular, apices subacute to obtuse; style included, 0.95–1.0 mm long, glabrous, not lengthening in fruit; stigma five–lobed. Fruit 1.8–2.0 × 2.1–2.5 mm, obovoid, light brown, apex round, glabrous. Seeds 0.7–0.8 mm long ovoid, light brown, testa slightly reticulate.

Similar Taxa

On the Chatham Islands Dracophyllum scoparium can only be confused with D. arboreum, especially when D. arboreum grows on the margins of the restiad bogs that D. scoparium favours. From D. arboreum, D. scoparium differs by its smaller shrub habit (up to 2 m cf. 15 m tall), smaller bronze-green to red-green, juvenile foliage, the fact that juvenile plants often flower, the lack of reversion shoots on adult shrubs, and by the upper leaf surface which is tomentose rather than pubescent. Dracophyllum scoparium is confined to restiad bogs where it forms shrubs up to 2 m high. In disturbed habitats it frequently hybridises with D. arboreum. On Campbell Island D. scoparium grows with D. longifolium var. cockayneanum which differs by its much longer yellow-green leaves. With respect to the other New Zealand Dracophyllum, D. scoparium is morphologically similar to D. filifolium, from which it differs in having smaller leaves (30.0–50.0 × 0.6–1.0 mm compared to 60.0–130.0 × 1.0–1.5 mm), lamina pubescence on the adaxial surfaces (not glabrous). The inflorescence bract is subulate with pubescent abaxial surfaces and the adaxial surface of the flower bract is pubescent not glabrous. The sepals are striate and longer than the corolla tube (not equaling and smooth) with the top half pubescent not glabrous. The corolla tube is narrower (1.3–1.5 mm compared to 1.8–2.5 mm) with longer (2.0–2.5 mm compared to 1.5–2.0 mm) triangular corolla lobes having papillate not glabrous adaxial surfaces, smaller nectary scales and an obovate not subglobose ovary.


Throughout the year

Flower Colours



Throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild


Abundant within its known habitats, and hardly at risk. Often regenerates profusely following fire on the main Chatham Island

Chromosome No.

2n = 26

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Minute seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.



Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN b P.J. de Lange (8 June 2012). Description adapted from Venter (2009)

References and further reading

Venter, S. 2009: A taxonomic revision of the genus Dracophyllum Labill. (Ericaceae). Unpublished Phd Thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington.

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 14 Aug 2014