Pittosporum fairchildii


Pittosporum: pitch seed

Common Name(s)

Fairchild's kohuhu

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 - CD, IE
2009 - IE


Pittosporum fairchildii Cheeseman



Brief Description

Large shrub bearing dark green leathery leaves that are paler underneath and with large yellow-green capsules inhabiting the Three Kings Islands. Leaves 5-7.5cm long, sparsely covered in white fuzz when young. Fruit 2.5cm wide, splitting into three or four sections to show the dark sticky seeds.

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




Endemic. New Zealand: Three Kings Islands where it is known from North East, Great (Manawa Tawhi), South East and West islands.


Coastal forest and sheltered cliff faces. Usually found in the forest understorey, though on occasion it may grow within open petrel scrub.


Gynodioecious shrub to small tree 3-6 m tall. Trunk stout, sometimes with 2 or more arising from ground grey-black, lenticillate. Branches erect to spreading, grey-black; branchlets similar clad in grey to brownish-grey tomentum, emergent shoots and immature branchlets white-tomentose, all soon becoming glabrous. Leaves alternate, usually crowded toward branch and branchlet apices. Petioles 3-8 x 0.5-2 mm, white to brown-tomentose. 40-70 x 20-38 mm, dark to light green above, much paler beneath, obovate, elliptic-obovate, elliptic-oblong or oblanceolate, apex obtuse or acute, base acute, margins entire; surfaces white to brown-tomentose when young, soon glabrous above but remaining finely tomentulose below when mature; very coriaceous, sometimes revolute. Flowers in terminal 2-4-flowered fascicles; pedicels 12-20 mm, accrescent in fruit, brown-tomentose, subtended by a whorl of leaves and caducous, ciliate, 5-10 mm long, bud scales. Sepals 4-7 x 2-3.5 mm, lanceolate, acute, brown-tomentose outside, glabrous within, ciliate. Petals 9-14 x 2.5-4.5 mm, lanceolate-oblong, subacute, free, spreading from about half their length, purple, chocolate or white. Stamens 7-8.5 mm, anthers 1.5-2.5 x 0.5-1.3 mm, sagittiform or elliptic-oblong. Ovary 2.5-6 x 2-4 mm, brown-tomentose; style 3-4 mm, stigma capitate or truncate. Capsules 20-25 mm diameter, 3-valved, subglobose, finely brown tomentose, glabrate, smooth to finely rugose; valves green maturing pale yellow, coriaceous to almost fleshy, scarcely opening at maturity. Mucilage bright yellow. Seeds 20-30, black, round.

Similar Taxa

Superficially similar to Pittosporum crassifolium but differing by its glabrate mature leaves and capsules, and mainly brownish rather than grey-white tomentum. The glabrate, mature capsules of P. fairchildii scarcely open, and are coloured green or yellow-green, while those of P. crassifolium are copiously covered in white-grey indumentum, and fully open when mature.


May - September

Flower Colours

Brown,Violet / Purple


August - June (may be present throughout the year)

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed which germinates within 6-8 months from sowing. Semi-hardwood cuttings also strike readily. This species readily hybridises with P. crassifolium Banks et Sol. ex A.Cunn., so should be planted well away from that species if pure seed is desired. Some nursery lines sold as P. fairchildii are in fact this hybrid.


Not threatened. However, it occupies a rather small geographic area and so qualifies for Range Restricted status.

Chromosome No.

2n = 24

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.



Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 30 August 2006. Description adapted from Cooper (1956).

References and further reading

Cooper, R.C. 1956: The Australian and New Zealand species of Pittosporum. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 43: 87-188

This page last updated on 6 Jan 2014