Tupeia antarctica


Tupeia: Named after Tupaia (c. 1725 – December, 26 1770) who was a Tahitian Polynesian navigator and arioi (a kind of priest), originally from the island of Ra'iatea in the Pacific Islands (see Chamisso & Schlechtendal, 1828).
antarctica: Antarctic

Common Name(s)

taapia, pirita, white mistletoe, tupia

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining

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 - Declining
2004 - Gradual Decline


2012 - CD
2009 - CD


Tupeia antarctica (G.Forst.) Cham. et Schlecht



Brief Description

Rounded shrub to 1m wide growing on other trees with white bark, finely hairy rounded twigs (lens needed), fleshy variously-shaped bright green leaves and whiteish to pinkish fruit. Leaves 10-70mm long. Flowers tiny.

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


Viscum antarcticum G.Forst., V. pubigerum A.Cunn., Tupeia cunninghamii Miq. T. pubigera Miq.


Endemic to the North and South Islands.


Forest or scrub (often in regenerating vegetation), where it is parasitic on a wide range of hosts including tarata, karo, Coprosma species, putaputaweta, fivefinger, white maire and broom.


A shrubby semi-parasite to 1 m diameter. Leaves are oppositely arranged, variable in shape, 10 to 70 by 10 to 40 mm, slightly fleshy and bright green. Stems are always rounded in cross section near the tips, have pale white to grey bark, and downy or hairy branchlets. Flowers are tiny, greenish-yellow. Fruit are fleshy, white to pink, 5 to 7 mm diameter.

Similar Taxa

Peraxilla colensoi, P. tetrapetala and Trilepidea adamsii all have colourful flowers. Ileostylus micranthus has tiny, yellow-green flowers, a ‘bent’ style, yellow fruit and young stems that are squarish in cross-section and have multiple attachments to its host. All these species are hairless.


Flowers from October to December.

Flower Colours



Fruit appear from December to March.

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Has been grown successfully by some people but many others have failed. Best success is achieved with seed that has been sown fresh (within one to two days of harvesting) onto a suitable host.


Possum browse is the primary threat to this species. Insect browse, habitat destruction, loss of pollinating and seed-dispersing native birds, collectors, vandalism and fungal disease also threaten this species.

Chromosome No.

2n = 24

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Cultural Use/Importance

This species will on occasion extend into beech forest where it has been found parasitic on red mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetala). Favoured indigenous hosts include Pseudopanax arboreus, Carpodetus serratus, Nestegis cunninghamii, Pittosporum eugenoides, P. tenuifolium, and Coprosma spp. At present the species has been recorded from 48 hosts (11 exotic) spread through 32 genera and 20 families (de Lange et al. 1997), though this figure needs revision as since that time many more hosts have been reported.

Fact Sheet Citation

Please cite as:  de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of Access): Tupeia antarctica Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=210  (Date website was queried)

References and further reading

Chamisso, L.K.A.; Schlechtendal, D.F.L. 1828: Lorantheae pp. 203-204. Linnaea 3(3): 200-219.

de Lange, P.J.; Norton, D.A.; Molloy, B.P.J. 1997: An annotated checklist of New Zealand mistletoe (Loranthaceae) hosts. Pp. 83-104. In: de Lange P.J.; Norton, D.A. (eds.New Zealand's loranthaceous mistletoes. Conference proceedings. Wellington, Department of Conservation.


This page last updated on 8 Apr 2019