Griseliniaceae (griselinia family) Griselinia

Griselinia littoralis kapuka, New Zealand broadleaf

New Zealand
Waxy, alternate leaves of Griselinia littoralis. Sairus Patel, 3 Feb 2016

This small New Zealand tree, often grown as a hedge, is distinguished by its leathery, broadly oval leaves to 4 inches long and almost as wide, waxy-shiny on top, dull and paler green below. One can see why one of its names is New Zealand privet, though its leaves are arranged alternately, and not oppositely as in Ligustrum. The flowers are inconspicuous.

The only known campus representative is in the Lou Henry Hoover House garden, just north of the house. Note its rough brown bark and the charming way its branchlets droop down, almost vine-like, to display their leaves. The twigginess of its canopy reminds one of camphor.

A 4-foot high upright, dense shrub to the right side of the stairs at the entrance to Roble Gym in 2005 was thought to be another specimen, but its leaves were opposite, and not alternate as expected for griselinia. It was removed, probably during the 2014–2016 renovation, when the landscaping was “rehabilitated in the spirit of the original design.”

About this Entry: John Rawlings authored this entry c. 2005. In Jan 2018 Sairus Patel expanded it, added the Hoover House location, and noted the leaf arrangement discrepancy of the Roble specimen.