Pittosporum tenuifolium Gaertn.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Pittosporum tenuifolium' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/pittosporum/pittosporum-tenuifolium/). Accessed 2024-07-19.

Common Names

  • Kohuhu


  • P. mayi Hort.


Dry dehiscent fruit; formed from syncarpous ovary.
Organism arising via vegetative or asexual reproduction.
With an unbroken margin.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
midveinCentral and principal vein in a leaf.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Pittosporum tenuifolium' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/pittosporum/pittosporum-tenuifolium/). Accessed 2024-07-19.

An evergreen tree up to 30 ft in height, with a slender trunk and dark coloured, almost black, young wood, and forming a dense mass of twiggy shoots. Leaves 1 to 212 in. long, oblong, obovate or elliptic, glabrous, of a pale shining green; the margins entire but wavy. The flowers come in the axils of the leaves, usually singly, but occasionally two or more together, and have dark chocolate-purple petals 14 to 12 in. long. The fruit is a capsule 12 in. in diameter, wrinkled when old, the valves thin.

Native of both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, reaching up to 3,000 ft altitude. Although it may be damaged or killed in severe winters, and be less hardy than such species as P. patulum and P. dallii, it seems to thrive better in our average climate than any other species so far introduced, as well as being the commonest. Even in eastern England it has attained 30 ft in sheltered places, and has produced self-sown seedlings in gardens as far east as Sussex. The flowers are borne very abundantly where it thrives, but are not conspicuous; their chief attraction is an exquisite honey-like fragrance, strongest in the evening, and then apparent yards away from the tree. The black young shoots and pale green leaves make a strong contrast. The cut foliage lasts long in water and is much used in floristry.

The following specimens have been recorded: Lanarth, Cornwall, 50 × 6 ft at 1 ft (1966); Tregrehan, Cornwall, 50 × 334 ft × 3 ft (1957); Newton Abbot, Devon, pl. 1885–90, 45 × 412 ft (E. Hyams, Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 91 (1966), p. 130); Lytchett Heath, Poole, Dorset, pl. 1889, 1712 ft high and 30 ft in circumference of spread (Journ R.H.S., Vol. 56 (1931), p. 58); Abbotsbury, Dorset, 35 × 3 ft (1957); Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 35 × 614 ft (1966); Ashbourne House, Co. Cork, 33 × 434 ft at 3 ft (1966).

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: Abbotsbury, Dorset, 47 × 414 ft (1980); Culzean Castle, Ayrs., 46 × 6 ft at 3 ft (1984); Castle Kennedy, Wigt., 52 × 4 ft (1984); Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 43 × 434 ft (1980).

† cv. ‘Eila Keightley’. – Leaves with a central variegation of yellow and yellowish green; midrib and veins cream-coloured. Raised in a New Zealand nursery. It is offered by some nursuries under the later, illegitimate name ‘Sunburst’. (Metcalfe, Cult. N.Z. Tr. and Shr., p. 224).

† cv. ‘Irene Paterson’. – Ground-colour of leaves white, which becomes speckled with green and grey-green.

† cv. ‘Tom Thumb’. – Foliage similar in colour to that of ‘Purpureum’, but habit bushy and compact, to about 3 ft high. The same or similar clone has been named ‘Purpureum Nanum’.


See below.

'James Stirling'

Leaves roundish, smaller than average, being about {5/8} in. long, {1/2} in. wide. The original plant was found by Mr Stirling in the East Cape District (Gard. Chron., May 10, 1967, p. 15).

P 'Garnettii'

Leaves with a margin of white which becomes tinted with pink in winter. They are elliptic, oblong-elliptic or rather broad oblong-elliptic, up to 2{1/4} in. long and 1{1/8} in. wide, slightly hairy beneath. Raised in New Zealand. It is usually treated as a cultivar of P. tenuifolium but may be a hybrid with P. ralphii as the other parent (Gard. Chron., June 15, 1966, p. 607).


Leaves purple and holding their colour through the winter.

'Silver Queen'

Leaves pale green with an irregular whitish margin. Raised by the Slieve Donard Nursery, Co. Down. A.M. 1914. There is an example at Caerhays, Cornwall, pl. 1915, measuring 43 × 334 ft at 312 ft (1966).

'Warnham Gold'

Leaves golden yellow. Raised in the nursery of the Greater London Council at Warnham Court, Horsham, Sussex.