Metrosideros parkinsonii


Metrosideros: iron heart

Common Name(s)

Parkinson's rata

Current Conservation Status

2018 - 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

2012 - Not Threatened
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Metrosideros parkinsonii Buchanan



Brief Description

Much branched shrub or small tree. Trunks 1 or more. Branches erect. Leaves almost clasping stems, dark green to yellow green above, paler beneath, thick, leathery, pointed, surfaces often blistered and blemished red. Flowers crimson, fluffy produced directly from branches, and often hidden by vegetative growth.

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: North and South Islands. In the North Island known only from Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) and Aotea Island (Great Barrier Island). In the South Island confined to the western side where it is locally common from Mt Burnett (near Collingwood) south to just north of Hokitika.


Coastal to montane forest. usually along ridgelines in peaty ground. In the North Island confined to montane "cloud" forest, usually in wind-pruned forest, scrubland and on the margins of cliff faces or surmounting rock outcrops


Shrub to small spindly tree up to 10 m tall. Multi-trunked, trunks up to 60 mm d.b.h.. Bark pale grey, flaking in small tabular shards. Branches few to many, erect, Branchlets square in cross-section, 4-angled, glabrous, initially dark red, maturing brown-grey to grey. Emergent vegetative buds pink or red-tinged. Leaves coriaceous, glabrous, adaxially dark green to green, abaxially paler, oil glands minute, scarcely evident to naked eye (except abaxially) petiolate; petioles almost wanting 2.2-3.0 mm. long; lamina 25-75 × 15-30 mm, ovate-lanceolate, base truncate to subamplexicaul, apex usually abruptly narrowed, to an obtuse or subacute tip. Inflorescences cauliflorus, borne in compound, sometimes leafy cymose botyria, mostly below main vegetative branches. Flowers up to 8 per cyme, crimson. Hypanthium turbinate, margins exceeding disc, calyx lobes ovate-triangular. Ovary triloculiar. Capsules 3-valved, 6-8 mm long, brown-grey to grey, subglobose to globose.Petals caducous, 5 × 5 mm, suborbicular to oblong, margins finely denticulate or subentire; stamens numerous, filaments 20-28 mm long, anthers yellow, style 23-30 mm long, stigma capitate. Seeds 1.2-2.0 mm long, narrowly obtriangular, narrowly elliptic to narrowly obovate, straight, rarely curved toward apices, orange, unfilled seeds similar but darker in colour.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised by the shrub of small-tree, multi-trunked growth habit, often with spindly branches, shortly petiolate, ovate-lanceolate leaves, cauliforous flowering habit, and crimson flowers.


September - December

Flower Colours

Red / Pink


January - April

Propagation Technique

Although a beautiful species, M. parkinsonii is difficult to maintain in cultivation, with even well established plants suddenly dying. While it can be grown from semi-hardwood cuttings these are difficult to strike. This species seems to do best planted in a damp, humus-enriched soil in a semi-shaded site.


Not Threatened. However, outside its north western South Island haunts it is only known from two small populations on Aotea Island (Great Barrier Island) and Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) where it is very uncommon. On Aotea some trees have been damaged by tracking up Mt Hirakimata (Mt Hobson). In the South Island, like all rata species, M. parkinsonii is impacted upon by possums.

Chromosome No.

2n = 22

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally offered by specialist native plant nurseries.


Fact sheet repared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (8 January 2013). Description from herbarium specimens and fresh material

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014