Unassuming 'pit-pat' endangered

Pittosporum patulum. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Pittosporum patulum. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
You would be unlikely to see a Pittosporum patulum in the wild. The unassuming endangered native hails from the eastern South Island, hours from the road-end, where only the keenest trampers might spot it.

Pittosporum patulum (or pit-pat as it is affectionately known) is a small tree that reaches 5m and becomes rounded when it reaches maturity. It is targeted by possums who feast on its berries, new growth and serrated leaves.

Like many endangered natives, it can get forgotten for use in the garden as it does little to stand out upon first glance. But it has surprising landscape value and looks striking in a group planting.

Its lightly scented flowers could be considered showy when compared with other natives.

In the wild, it grows in recently disturbed soil such as areas around slips in the subalpine zone.

This makes it adaptable to a range of soil types and climates in the South Island.

Pittosporum patulum is relatively fast-growing compared with other natives, but can still take several decades to reach maturity.

Can't make it to the mountains?

Next time you're passing Dunedin Botanic Garden take a walk through the Clive Lister Garden and discover a young grove tucked inside the lych gate.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Briar Alexander.


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