Alseuosmia quercifolia (Oak-leaved toropapa)
Species: A. quercifolia
Scientific name: Alseuosmia quercifolia
Synonyms: Alseuosmia ilex, A. xquercifolia.
Common names: Oak-leaved toropapa, toropapa, karapapa
Alseuosmia quercifolia is a native shrub usually growing up to 1.5 metres high and a spread of 1m. It is a relatively short-lived (less than 50 years), slow-growing species. Its habitat is a damp but not boggy shady forest where it sprawls through the undergrowth.
It is endemic to the North Island only, from Te Paki to near Awakino in the west, and in the east present to about Thames and the lower Hauraki Plains and in scattered populations to North Cape. (North of latitude 38°05'S). It is most common in lowland native forests of the Waikato region basin.
From April until August (or even as late as December) the small long trumpet flowers have a beautiful fragrance and are variable in size and colour. They are red to pink and may have pale stripes and a distinct frill or beard around the edge. The Genus name Alseuosmia is Latin for “perfume of the grove"
The fruit are 1cm bright red berries. Unfortunately these rarely set much viable seed except where indigenous nectar-feeding birds are common, such as on rodent-free offshore islands. Loss of the huia and the bellbird from our ranges consequently affects flowering plants such as the Alseuosmia quercifolia. The fleshy fruit is adapted to bird dispersal, but seed dispersal now appears to be primarily by gravity. The strong perfume also suggests moth polination.
This species is vulnerable because all plants are within browsing height and it is highly palatable to introduced mammals such as possums, deer, goats and probably pigs.
Photographed at Te Kainga Marire Garden, New Plymouth
The underside of a leaf.
This shrub was photographed at Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton's Bush Reserve. Wellington.