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


Olearia rani (Heketara)

Kingdom:  Plantae

(Unranked):        Angiosperms
(Unranked):        Eudicots
(Unranked):        Asterids
Order:       Asterales
Family:      Asteraceae
Tribe:        Astereae
Genus:      Olearia
Species:     O. rani
Binomial name: Olearia rani
Common names: Heketara, Akewharangi, Ngungu, Taraheke, Tātaraheke, Wharangi-piro.

Olearia rani is a common small forest tree of New Zealand growing up to 8 metres in height when the conditions are right. It grows in dry lowland forest throughout the North Island and in the northern half of the South Island. It is often seen as a small to medium shrub in regenerating forest or on the edges of clearings.

There are two variations, Olearia rani var. rani and Olearia rani var. colorata.
Olearia rani var. rani occurs from Te Paki south to Northern Waikato and the Coromandel Peninsula.
Olearia rani var. colorata grows from the Waikato south to the Northern South Island.

The leaves have white undersides and prominent veins. During the spring the tree produces clusters of small white daisy like flowers. The seeds are dispersed by the wind.

Maori sometimes transplanted this shrub and grew them near their villages. They used the leaves to give an agreeable scent to shark oil which was used as a cosmetic. The crushed leaves mixed with kōpuru moss was used to impart a pleasing odour to their clothing.  

Olearia rani var. colorata.which has longer and narrow leaves than Olearia rani var. rani

End of the flowering stage, some petals lost.


The parachute like seeds ready to be blown away.


The leaf margins are sharply but irregulary toothed.


The underside of a leaf with prominent veins and a whitish tomentum.