Alectryon excelsus subsp. grandis


Alectryon: cockscomb
excelsus: tall
grandis: big

Common Name(s)

Three Kings titoki

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable

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 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Critical


2012 - CD, IE
2009 - IE, Inc, OL


Alectryon excelsus subsp. grandis (Cheeseman) de Lange et E.K.Cameron



Brief Description

Small tree with spreading branches and a dark fluted trunk of the Three Kings Islands. Leaves with 2-4 offset pairs of glossy dark green leaflets. Flowers red, in small, clustered, sprays. Fruit fleshy red partly surrounding a black seed and expanding from a furry brown capsule.

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


Alectryon excelsus var. grandis Cheeseman, Alectryon grandis (Cheeseman) Cheeseman


Endemic to the Three Kings Archipelago, where it is known from Great (Manawa Tawhi) and West Islands.


Coastal Forest, where it often grows along the more exposed margins. Occasionally it is found as a subcanopy tree within the dense kanuka (Kunzea aff. ericoides) forest that dominates the Three Kings Islands.


Small spreading shrub tree 2-7 x 3-10 m; multitrunked from base. Branches stout, erect, all parts invested with fine, velutinous, ferrugineous hairs. Bark brown, lenticillate. Adult leaves light to dark green, vernicose, imparipinnate, alternate 14-70 mm long. Leaflets 2-4 pairs; lamina 90-160 x 60-90 mm, subcoriaceous, broadly oblong or ovate, apex obtuse, subacute often acuminate, base cuneate, truncate to oblique, upper leaf surface vernicose, bullate; lamina margin entire. Inflorescences axillary 90-120 mm long, sparingly branched panicles. Flowers bisexual or staminate. Petals absent. Stamens 5-8 in bisexual and 6-10 in staminate flowers, crimson. Stigma ovoid, in staminate flowers ovary tholiform, style absent, in perfect flowers broadly urceolate, style 1.5-2 mm, erect. Fruits sessile, 1-2-lobed, 15-20 x 10-14 mm, pubescent, globular, carina 3-5 mm long on one side. Seed 8-10 x 6-9 mm, subglobose, black, lustrous, sarcotesta fleshy, scarlet, papillose.

Similar Taxa

Titoki (Alectryon excelsus Gaertn. subsp. excelsus) could be confused with Three Kings Titoki. However, this subspecies is much taller (up to 15 m tall), and usually has a single trunk. The compound leaves have (3-)5(-7) pairs of smooth edged (or toothed) generally narrower leaflets whose surfaces are matt or glossy but never bullate. There are no major differences in the flowers or the fruits.


October to December

Flower Colours

Red / Pink


December to April

Propagation Technique

Fresh seed germinates readily. However, as most seed comes from trees planted nearby titoki (A. excelsus subsp. excelsus) it is difficult to obtain pure seed, and many plants sold by nurseries are F1 hybrids. Hybrids are now commonly seen in street plantings around Auckland City.


In the past this tree was virtually eliminated by goats. Since goats were eradicated in 1946, Three Kings titoki has gradually increased in range, and is now found in scattered sites across most of the eastern side of Great Island. A single tree has also been reported from West Island.

Chromosome No.

2n = 32

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family





Description based on de Lange et al. (1999).

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J.; Cameron, E.K.; Murray, B.G. 1999: Alectryon excelsus subsp. grandis (Sapindaceae): a new combination for an uncommon small tree endemic to the Three Kings Islands, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37: 7-16.

This page last updated on 19 Dec 2014