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myoporum, ngaio tree

creeping myoporum, slender myoporum

Habit Shrubs or trees, broadly spreading, 30–100 dm. Shrubs, prostrate, to 5 dm.

ascending to prostrate, much branched;

twig tips and young leaves bronze green, sticky.

prostrate, much branched, 15 dm, often rooting at nodes;

twig tips and young leaves green, not sticky.


blade bright green, lanceolate, 5–12.5 × 1.5–3 cm, margins finely serrate distal to middle, embedded glands conspicuous.

blade green, narrowly oblanceolate, 2–4 × 0.5 cm, margins entire or sparsely serrate distal to middle, embedded glands inconspicuous.


2–4 per axil;

corolla white with purple spots on lobes and distal tube, tube 3.5–4.5 mm, lobes equal, 4–5.5 mm, densely long-hairy adaxially;

anthers well exserted from tube;

ovary smooth.

1–3 per axil;

corolla white, purple-spotted at bases of lobes, tube 2.5–3 mm, lobes equal, 3–4 mm, sparsely hairy adaxially;

anthers well exserted from tube;

ovary smooth.


pale to dark reddish purple, ovoid, 5–10 mm.

white to pale brown, globular, 5–7 mm, fleshy.


oblong, 3–3.5 mm.

ovoid to ellipsoid, 2 mm.


= 108 (New Zealand).

Myoporum laetum

Myoporum parvifolium

Phenology Flowering (Jan–)Mar–Aug. Flowering Apr–Oct.
Habitat Open areas in grasslands, scrub, riparian habitats, generally coastal. Vacant lots, open, mesic areas in chaparral.
Elevation 0–500 m. (0–1600 ft.) 100–300 m. (300–1000 ft.)
from FNA
CA; Pacific Islands (New Zealand) [Introduced in North America; introduced also in s South America (Argentina, Uruguay)]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
CA; Australia [Introduced in North America]

Myoporum laetum is commonly cultivated in coastal areas of California. Although first collected outside of cultivation in 1949, it was not recognized as an introduced element of local and regional floras until the 1970s. It has naturalized mostly in southern California to San Luis Obispo County with some populations north along the coast to the San Francisco Bay area.

Myoporum insulare R. Brown, also cultivated in California, is similar to M. laetum, and some reports of M. laetum are possibly M. insulare. Myoporum insulare has leaves that are lighter green when young, and the translucent glands of the mature leaves are less conspicuous. The flowers are slightly smaller with anthers that are only slightly exserted from the tubes, and the fruits are smaller and globular.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Myoporum parvifolium is widely cultivated as a ground cover in the southwestern United States; it appears to be established in canyons of urban southern California.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 17, p. 336. FNA vol. 17, p. 337.
Parent taxa Scrophulariaceae > Myoporum Scrophulariaceae > Myoporum
Sibling taxa
M. acuminatum, M. parvifolium
M. acuminatum, M. laetum
Name authority G. Forster: Fl. Ins. Austr., 44. (1786) R. Brown: Prodr., 516. (1810)
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