The Pittosporum Family

Kohuhu Kohuhu Kohuhu Kohuhu

What are they?

This is a family of woody plants that is largely confined to the southern hemisphere and the tropical regions of the world with just a handful of species introduced into the UK as garden ornamentals. Within the family, the genus Pittosporum is popular as a group of evergreen shrubs that are weather-tolerant of coastal conditions and are commonly planted near the coast for hedging and screening. However, these plants are not fully frost-hardy and are most often found in SW Britain. A single, more hardy species has been cultivated to produce a range of named varieties.

Where are they found?

One species is widely planted in gardens and amenity areas, especially near the coast, where its salt tolerance is a useful attribute in coping with coastal conditions. Occasionally a plant may be found in the wider countryside as a survivor from a previous planting or as a garden throw-out. More recently, a warming climate has allowed self-sown seedlings to persist in urban areas.


The highly glossy, wavy-edged leaves on blackish, wiry stems of Kohuhu are unlike any of our native plants. Note that leaf shape is rather variable in this species and that a range of forms with bronze, purple, yellow or variegatedleaves is grown.

Kohuhu      Pittosporum tenuifolium

Introduced from New Zealand as a garden ornamental and widely planted for hedging and screening, especially near the coast. In recent years, self-sown seedlings have started to appear in sheltered - usually urban - areas. Flowers April to June. Evergreen shrubs, capable of growing to over 1m in height when free-growing but often cut as hedging. Leaf-bearing branches are thin and wiry and blackish on colour. leaves are shiny and usually have strongly waved edges. Flowers are five-petalled and deep reddish-purple or maroon in colour and are followed by rounded seed capsules.

Kohuhu Kohuhu Kohuhu Kohuhu
Kohuhu Kohuhu Kohuhu Kohuhu
Variegated form
Young fruits
Ripe fruits