Hoheria lyallii


Hoheria: Latin version of the Maori name houhere which refers to H. populnea and H. glabrata.
lyallii: Named after David Lyall (1817-1895), 19th century Scottish naturalist and surgeon with the Royal Navy, who explored Antarctica, New Zealand, the Arctic and North America and was a lifelong friend of Sir Joseph Hooker.

Common Name(s)

Mountain lacebark

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

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 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Hoheria lyallii Hook.f.



Brief Description

Small spreading soft-wooded deciduous tree inhabiting dryer mountain areas of the South Island. Leaves thin, covered in small hairs, widest at base and narrowing to point, margin with many uneven blunt teeth and some deeper divisions, on long stalks. Flowers white, cupped, developing into a dry narrowly-winged fruit.

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


Plagianthus lyallii (Hook.f.) Hook.f., Gaya lyallii Baker, G. lyallii var. ribifolia Kirk, G. ribifolia Cockayne


New Zealand: South Island where it is mostly known from eastern Canterbury and Marlborough with a disjunct population in Nelson (Kahurangi National Park)


Found in montane and subalpine areas in the upper forest margins. Occasionally found on river and stream terraces where it may be found in groves.


Tree up to 8 m tall, deciduous; hairs stellate; leaves heteroblastic. Juvenile leaves: lamina 13–40 × 15–40 mm, broad-elliptic to suborbicular, both surfaces sparsely to moderately hairy; apex subacute; base cordate to weakly truncate; margin deeply lobed to strongly crenate; petiole 15–52 mm long, sparsely to moderately hairy. Adult leaves: lamina 33–156 × 22–89 mm, elliptic to deltoid,adaxial and abaxial surfaces moderately to densely hairy, occasionally sparsely hairy; apex acute to subacute; margins crenate or double-crenate, often deeply lobed; base cordate to occasionally weakly truncate; petiole 10–43 mm long, moderately to densely hairy. Flowers axillary, solitary or in cymose fasicles of 2–3. Pedicels 12–25 mm long, sparsely to moderately hairy. Calyx 3.6–6.2 mm high, 7.0–9.5 mm wide, campanulate, densely hairy; lobes 5–6, 3.5–5.8 × 3.5–5.1 mm, triangular to narrowly triangular, apex acute. Petals 5(–6), 15.7–20.0 × 11.6–15.0 mm, white, oblong-orbicular to broadly oblong, adaxial surface and margin toward proximal part with scattered simple hairs, abaxial surface sparsely to moderately hairy; claw 1.5–2.5 mm long. Stamens 35–50; filaments 8.4–10.8 mm long, white, in pairs and adnate for one-quarter to three-quarters of their length, column with stellate and simple patent hairs; anthers 0.6–0.8 mm long. Carpels 8–14; ovary ovoid, 0.8–2.0 mm long, 0.8–2.0 mm diameter, densely hairy; style 8.4–10.0 mm long, pink, sparsely hairy, fused in lower half; stigma 0.3–0.4 mm diameter, capitate to slightly decurrent with style. Mericarp body 4.7–6.2 × 3.5–5.3 mm, broadly elliptic, laterally compressed; wing 1.2–2.2 mm wide, extending from upper two-thirds of dorsal surface, weakly ribbed, moderately hairy, margin irregularly toothed. Seeds 2.2–3.4 × 2.2–2.8 mm, orange brown, glabrous, semicircular to triangular, broader toward base, biconvex or with a rounded dorsal surface, sometimes with a narrow wing up to 0.4 mm wide, usually separating from mericarp at maturity. Description from Heenan et al. (2005).

Similar Taxa

Distinguishing Characters: Hoheria lyallii differs from H. glabrata by the shorter leaves which have truncate bases, moderately to densely hairy surfaces, and an acute apex. Hoheria lyallii and H. glabrata are a species pair, with H. lyallii confined to the drier part of the South Island, and H. glabrata to the wetter areas. Hoheria glabrata is the only species of the pair known to extend to the North Island.


November - March

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


April - July

Propagation Technique

Best from fresh seed. An extremely attractive species, unusual in the New Zealand flora for its deciduous habit. Prefers a damp soil in a sunny site, and does best in cooler climates. Dislikes humidity and will not flower in warmer climates unless it is subjected to cold treatment


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 42

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Winged mericarps are dispersed by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Occasionally sold by specialist garden centres.


Fact Sheet Prepared for NZPCN by: P.J. de Lange 3 April 2011

References and further reading

Heenan, P.B.; Dawson, M.I.; Redmond, D.N.; Wagstaff, S.J. 2005: Relationships of the New Zealand mountain ribbonwoods (Hoheria glabrata and H. lyallii: Malvaceae), based on molecular and morphological data. New Zealand Journal of Botany 43: 527–549.

Moorfield, J. C. (2005). Te aka : Maori-English, English-Maori dictionary and index.  Pearson Longman:  Auckland, N.Z.

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 10 Apr 2015