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Divaricating Plants

New Zealand native plants are known for their foliage, form and structure.

Some of these forms exhibit a very tangled growth phase when young, or in their juvenile growth stage, known as a divaricating form.
Divaricating means having branches of wide angles and intertangled.

Divarication occurs across many plant families and curiously is found in some genera or species, but may not be prevalent in all the members of the genera eg Coprosma lucida and Coprosma repens are not divaricating but Coprosma acerosa is.


The genera in which divaricating occurs includes Coprosma, Corokia, Melicytus, Myrsine, and Sophora.


 List of Some Divaricating Plants in NZ

Using Divaricating Plants in the Garden

Contrast these divaricating plants with bold, large-leafed plants like Meryta sinclairii (puka), Macropiper melchior, Pseudopanax laetus and Griselinia lucida ( kapuka), for dramatic effect.

Use divaricating plants also with the bold strong-bladed forms of the flaxes Phormium tenax and Phormium cookianum, Libertia ixioides (NZ iris) and Xeronema callistemon (Poor Knight’s lily).

Another feature of some New Zealand native plants is that they show changes in form from a young plant to an adult.

The most common examples of this are the Lancewoods Pseudopanax crassifolium and Pseudopanax ferox.


The juvenile lancewood has narrow toothed downward pointing leaves.
As the lancewood matures, it branches to a round headed tree with shorter and broader less toothed leaves.
These plants can add interest and texture to amenity planting.