Pittosporum tenuifolium

13 May

Pittosporum tenuifolium Flower (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

Pittosporum tenuifolium Flower (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade. Requires a sheltered position.

Flowering period: Late spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 10m

Eventual Spread: 4m

Hardiness: 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b

Family:  Pittosporaceae

Pittosporum tenuifolium is a small evergreen tree. Its glossy, leathery green leaves are elliptic with entire wavy margins and are spirally arranged or whorled. Its bark is dark gray to black in colour. Its purple, fragrant, hermaphrodite flowers are bell shaped, produced singly or in umbels or corymbs, each flower has five sepals and five petals. Its fruit is a woody seed capsule, which bursts on ripening to release the numerous seeds. 

Pittosporum tenuifolium, commonly known by the Maori names Kohuhu, Kohukohu, or Black Matipo is native to New Zealand. In its native habitat it grows wild in the coastal and lower mountain forests of both the North and South islands up to an altitude of 900m.

The etymological root of the binomial name Pittosporum is derived from the Greek pitte meaning ‘tar’ and sporos meaning ‘seed’, describing the sticky seed capsules. Tenuifolium is derived from the Latin meaning ‘thinly leaved’.

Pittosporum tenuifolium (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

Pittosporum tenuifolium (05/05/2012, Kew, London)

The landscape architect may find Pittosporum tenuifolium useful as an evergreen small tree with sweetly scented flowers. It is also useful as a evergreen hedge. It is drought tolerant once established.

Ecologically, Pittosporum tenuifolium is attractive to pollinating insects.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Pittosporum tenuifolium their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Pittosporum tenuifolium prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Pittosporum tenuifolium requires little maintenance. Hedge pruning or the removal of damaged branches should be carried out in mid spring.


2 Responses to “Pittosporum tenuifolium”

  1. Marie 06/08/2016 at 20:14 #

    Our 15 year old pittosporum tenufolium (nigricrans) have never dropped these tiny black sticky seeds, to my knowledge.
    Your site seems to indicate that this is natural! Will this stop when the seeds are dispersed? They are very messy and stick to the plants below and on the soles of shoes. California is in a drought…could this have any impact on this?

    • Davis Landscape Architecture 15/08/2016 at 08:16 #


      I may be that you plant had the right climatic conditions to produce seed this year (possibly due to the drought conditions you are experiencing) or it may be that you plant is now mature enough to produce flower then seed. Depending on what has triggered the production of seed i.e climatic conditions or plant maturity, I would suggest your plant will produce seed again either:
      1) If the climatic conditions you are experiencing are reproduced in future years.
      2) Every year if it was dependent on plant maturity.

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