T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Alseuosmia pusilla (Small Toropapa)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Alseuosmiaceae
Genus: Alseuosmia
Species: A. pusilla
Binominal name: Alseuosmia pusilla
Synonyms: Alseuosmia quercifolia var. pusilla, Alseuosmia quercifolia var. glauca
Common names: Mountain Alseuosmia, Small Toropapa

Alseuosmia pusilla is a small slow growing endemic shrub that only grows in cool semi-shaded sites that have permanently damp soil. It will grow to 0.6 m in height and can have a spread of 0.3mm.\
It is found in the North Island from Te Moehau and Mt Pirongia south, mainly montane. It grows on Mt Egmont/Taranaki. In the South Island it is found in the west only from North-West Nelson to near Okarito.
The glossy leaves often have a mottled red-flecked surface and the margins are entire or can have a few minute teeth.
In November to March it develops white fragrant sweet smelling flowers whose petals are sometime fused into long tubes.
Bright shiny red fleshy fruit appear January to March.

Alseuosmia pusilla looks a lot like a juvenile Pseudowintera colorata (horopito) whose leaves have a peppery taste. They are completely unrelated. It’s been suggested that this is a case of mimicry, the palatable Alseuosmia pusilla mimicking the unpalatable Pseudowintera colorata, although this is controversial.  Alseuosmia flowers and fruit are very different to Pseudowintera colorata.

The name is derived from the Latin words. Alseuosmia meaning perfume grove and pusilla meaning small.



Small shrub photographed East Mt Egmont/Taranaki February.


The red juicy fruit.