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


Coprosma (Information)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids 
Order: Gentianales 
Family:  Rubiaceae 
Subfamily: Rubioideae 
Tribe: Anthospermeae 
Genus: Coprosma
Species: About  53 species in New Zealand. About 40 of the New Zealand species are small leaved or divaricating (Branching or spreading widely from a point or axis, as branches) shrubs. Natural hybrids are common.

For more detailed information on New Zealand's coprosmas visit: http://www.nzflora.info/factsheet/Taxon/Coprosma.html

For help with identifying Coprosma try this excellent key from Landcare research

Many species are small shrubs with tiny evergreen leaves, but a few are small trees and have much larger leaves. The flowers have insignificant petals and are wind-pollinated, with long anthers and stigmas. Although flowering is usually in the spring months and fruit ripening in autumn, there is considerable diversity in the range of this species. Out of season, flowering may occur.  
The fruit is a non-poisonous juicy berry, most often bright orange (but can be dark red or even light blue), containing two small seeds. It is said that coffee can be made from the seeds, Coprosma being related to the coffee plants.
The orange fruit of the larger species was eaten by Maori children, and are also popular with birds.
A notable feature is that the leaves contain hollows in the axils of the veins; in these, and on the leaf stipules, nitrogen-fixing bacteria grow.
The name Coprosma means smelling like dung and refers to the smell (methanethiol) given out by the crushed leaves of a few species.