Metrosideros colensoi


Metrosideros: iron heart
colensoi: Named after William Colenso (7 November 1811 - 10 February 1899) who was a Cornish Christian missionary to New Zealand, and also a printer, botanist, explorer and politician.

Common Name(s)


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 colensoi Hook.f.



Brief Description

Woody long-climbing vine. Adult branches pendent. Adult leaves green, finely hairy, close-set and overlapping, sharp-tipped, surfaces without any obvious glandular spotting. Flowers terminal, fluffy, white or pink.

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 Lianes and Related Trailing Plants


Metrosideros pendens Colenso, Metrosideros colensoi Hook.f. var. colensoi, Metrosideros colensoi var. pendens (Colenso) Kirk


Endemic. New Zealand: North Island (from central Northland south), South Island (Nelson and Marlborough to Westland and southern Marlborough / North Canterbury (Napenape)


Lowland to montane forest (particularly a vine seen in riparian and alluvial forest). Especially common in limestone areas on rock outcrops, in gorges, cliff faces and around cave entrances.


Slender to very slender vine up to 10 m tall. Bark grey to pale grey, ± tessellated, and flaking in tabular shards. Initial stems sparingly branched but soon much-branched, widely spreading, apices trailing and pendent. Branchlets subterete, pilose-pubescent (indument in mixtures or fine, short and long pilose brownish hairs). Leaves not markedly dimorphic, close-set to overlapping (± imbricate), submembranous to subcoriaceous, petiolate, ± subsessile; petioles 1-3 mm long, subterete; juvenile lamina 4-10 × 2-8 mm, ovate-lanceolate, base cuneate to almost truncate, apex acute to acuminate, initially yellow-green, adaxially maturing to green, abaxially paler, both surfaces finely covered in minute oil glands, and initially densely pubescent, ± glabrescent; adult lamina 8-20 × 5-20 mm, otherwise similar. Inflorescences terminal and lateral, white (rarely pink), comprising small, few-flowered cymes; peduncles and pedicels pubescent, peduncles 10-30 mm long, pedicels up to 3 mm long; hypanthia 5 mm long, narrowly- urceolate or -subglobose to ± funnelform, pubescent, hypanthium rim exceeding disc, calyx lobes 1.5-2.0 mm long, narrow deltoid, acute to acuminate, initially forward projecting, spreading with age. Petals 1.5-2.2 × 1.5-2.2 mm, orbicular, not or only scarcely exceeding calyx lobes. Stamens numerous, filaments 8-12 mm long, anthers yellow. Style 10-14 mm long, stigma capitate. Capsule 4-6 mm diameter, narrowly urceolate to subglobose, externally 3-ribbed, 3-valved. Seeds 0.6-1.1 mm long, narrowly elliptic, narrowly obovate or oblong, apex usually curved orange to orange-brown, unfilled seeds dark orange-brown.

Similar Taxa

Readily distinguished from other similar small, white-flowered rata (Metrosideros diffusa and M. perforata) by the widely spreading, pendant branches, softly hairy, close-set, overlapping, ovate-lanceolate, acute to acuminate leaves (without obvious oil glands) and terminal, white to pink inflorescences.


August to October

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White


December - April

Propagation Technique

Although a beautiful species, M. colensoi is not commonly cultivated and it has a reputation for being difficult. Like all other climbing rata it can be grown from rooted pieces and from semi-hardwood cuttings. However like all Metrosideros cuttings can be fickle to strike. This species, once established is very hardy and tolerant of a range of conditions. The long drooping (pendent) branches and terminal clusters of white fluffy flowers are especially attractive when specimens are planted to grow up a wall or along a fence.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 22

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family





Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (6 January 2013). Description from herbarium specimens and fresh material.

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014