Aristotelia serrata

Common name:   Family: Elaeocarpaceae
Author: (J.R.Forst.&G.Forst.)W.R.B.Oliver Botanical references: 11, 44, 200
Synonyms: Dicera serrata (J.R.Forst.&G.Forst.), Aristotelia racemosa (Hook.f.)
Known Hazards: None known
Range: New Zealand.
Habitat: Forest and scrub from lowland to montane areas in North, South and Stewart Islands44, 173.
Edibility Rating (1-5): 3 Medicinal Rating (1-5): 1
Epithets: From a Dictionary of Botanical Epithets
serra = toothed; serrata = saw toothed;
Systematics: From a UDSA Plants Database
Order: Malvales. Elaeocarpus family
Other Range Info: From the Ethnobotany Database
New Zealand

Physical Characteristics

A decidious tree growing to 7.5m. It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in flower in May. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees and insects. The plant not is self-fertile. We rate it 3/5 for edibility and 1/5 for medicinal use.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Habitats and Possible Locations

Woodland, Sunny Edge.

Edible Uses


Fruit – raw or cooked

2, 46, 61, 173. A delicious taste153. The fruit is about 7mm in diameter200.

Medicinal Uses

Antirheumatic; Ophthalmic; Poultice.

Antirheumatic, ophthalmic, poultice


Other Uses

Charcoal; Dye; Wood.

Yields a blue/black dye

153. No further details are given. The wood is used in cabinet making, turnery, inlay etc46, 61 as well as for making charcoal46, 128.

Cultivation details

Prefers a slightly acid, moderately fertile well-drained soil in full sun with shelter from cold drying winds200. Plants grow best in light shade219. Plants are only hardy in the milder and moister areas of Britain1, 11, growing well in light woodland166. If cut back in severe winters they will often resprout from the sturdier branches219. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sunK. In its native New Zealand, this is one of the first plants to colonize areas of cleared woodland or waste ground219. Plants do not really require pruning219. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.


Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once the plants are at least 20cm tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame11. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth in early winter1. Take cuttings 15 – 30cm long and plant them in pots or the open soil in a greenhouse. They normally root very easily and can be potted up in early summer then planted out late the following springK.