Metrosideros kermadecensis


Metrosideros: iron heart
kermadecensis: From the Kermadec Islands

Common Name(s)

Kermadec pohutukawa

Current Conservation Status

2018 - Threatened - Nationally Critical

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

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - IE, OL
2009 - IE, OL


Metrosideros kermadecensis W.R.B.Oliv.



Brief Description

Tree bearing leathery elliptical leaves that are white underneath and bearing scattered red bristly flowers inhabiting the Kermadec Islands (and planted in New Zealand). Leaves 2-5cm long, widest at the middle. Flowers composed from many red filaments around a green glossy disk that is fuzzy white underneath.

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


Metrosideros polymorpha Hook.f. and Metrosideros villosa Kirk are heterotypic synonyms of M. polymorpha Gaudich., Metrosideros villosa Sm.


Endemic. Kermadec Islands: Raoul, North and South Meyer Islands, Herald Isltes (Napier, Nugent and Dayrell)


The dominant canopy tree on Raoul Island where it is found from the coastline to the highest peaks. Forms the main tree of both dry and wet forest types. It was supposedly also present on Macauley Island although there are no herbarium specimens known to substantiate this claim.


Multitrunked (rarely single) tree up to 20 m tall usually with a broadly spreading, domed canopy; trunk up to 3 m diameter, if more than one usually much smaller; trunk surface often covered in adventitious roots. Bark mostly firm, tessellated to platy, grey, grey-brown or whitish, often covered in sparse to dense growths of lichens, liverworts and mosses. Branches erect to spreading, sometimes scrambling across forest floor in which case often rooting freely where touching the ground. Branchlets terete, numerous toward branch ends. Young branchlets, leaf undersides, inflorescence-axes, hypanthia, and sepals densely clad in tomentum, tomentum initially white, maturing dirty grey. Petioles 5-7 mm long, terete to subterete, very coriaceous; lamina 20-50 × 10-30 mm, dull dark green above with appressed, greyish indumentum along the midrib, sometimes extending along the upper surface of the base of the leaf, orbicular, suborbicular, broadly ovate- to elliptic-oblong, apex obtuse to retuse, base obtuse to cuneately-narrowed, coriaceous, margins weakly to strongly recurved. Inflorescence complex, comprising 2 or more terminal compound corymbiform cymes each bearing numerous flowers; pedicels rigidly stout, 8-12 mm long. Hypanthium obconic to turbinate, sepals coriaceous to subcoriaceous, deltoid to triangular, gland-tipped; petals caducous, fleshy, scarlet, crimson to pink, 2.2-3.2 × 2.0-3.0, orbicular, suborbicular to oblong, glabrescent. Stamens numerous, filaments crimson, 10-23 mm long; anthers versatile, yellow, 1.0 × 0.2-0.4 mm. Nectarial disc initially green at anthesis, maturing red or red-green. Ovary 3-locular, adnate to hypanthium; capsules long-persistent, woody, 3-valved, 6.0-7.2 mm long, receptacle distinctly exserted, outer surface and inner sepals and hypanthial rim covered in appressed white to greyish-white tomentum. Seeds numerous, 2.5-4.5 mm long, yellow to pale orange, very narrowly elliptic to linear, 2-4-angled, body often twisted, laterally compressed, apex curved or hooked.

Similar Taxa

Metrosideros kermadecensis is the only species of that genus found on the Kermadec Islands so in the wild it is not likely to be confused with any other plant. In New Zealand it is commonly cultivated and sometimes sold as pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa). From that species it differs by its smaller (20-50 × 10-30 mm cf. 25-100 × 25-35 mm in M. excelsa), orbicular, suborbicular, broadly ovate- to elliptic-oblong (rather than elliptic to oblong, broadly-lanceolate, acute or obtuse) leaves. However, populations of M. excelsa on the Three Kings Islands approach M. kermadecensis in having smaller more consistently elliptic-oblong leaves. In cultivation Metrosideros kermadecensis seems to have no set flowering period with flowers seen throughout the year.


Throughout the year

Flower Colours

Red / Pink


Throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed. Cuttings can be grown from water shoots. Hybridises with pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa). Although cold sensitive it can be grown in most places provided there is adequate shelter. This species frequently has some flowers present throughout the year but it rarely has a major flowering event.


Not Threatened. It is listed as Range Restricted because it is an island endemic which globally occupies such a small area. This is the dominant tree on Raoul Island and it is also prominent on the nearby Meyer Islands and Napier, Dayrell and Nugent in the Herald Islets.

Chromosome No.

2n = 22

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Commonly sold in most garden centres in New Zealand, often - unfortunately - mislabelled as Metrosideros excelsa.



Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (8 June 2009). Description adapted from Allan (1961) supplemented with data obtained from herbarium specimens, fresh material and observations made on Raoul Island.

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I, Government Printer, Wellington

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014