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 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 for any 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 were 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.