About the NZ Myrtaceae Key

Plant names | Features | Images | Authors | Software | Further reading | Websites


This free and easy-to-use interactive key, the ‘NZ Myrtaceae Key’, is designed to help accurately identify important species within the myrtle family that grow in Aotearoa – New Zealand.

The arrival of myrtle rust (a fungal disease caused by Austropuccinia psidii) to New Zealand provided the impetus for the development of this identification key, funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Biosecurity New Zealand. MPI Biosecurity NZ has a role in protecting the primary sectors and the environment from biological risk through biosecurity surveillance and incursion response to invasive pests and pathogens.

This key is designed to provide accurate identification of species of Myrtaceae in New Zealand, which will assist in reporting myrtle rust occurrences for the long-term monitoring and development of management options.

Plant names

Plant names used in this key (as at August 2020) are those of the Ngā Tipu o Aotearoa – New Zealand Plants database (PND), the Australian Plant Census (APC), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and Plants of the World Online (POWO).

There are 97 main entities included in this key (mostly species, but also subspecies, hybrids, and cultivars).

Entities (taxa) were selected to include all indigenous New Zealand species (except Kunzea salterae, K. toelkenii, and K. triregensis, which are local endemics and seldom encountered), cultivated and naturalised species, common eucalypts and a range of other exotic species and genera, and species with susceptibility to myrtle rust (where known).


Features (characters and character states) were chosen to be easy to use and the most informative (to best resolve the entities included in this key).

Botanically, characters are the numerous features studied by botanists (e.g. plant form, leaf width, flower colour). Character states are the different expressions of a given character (e.g. plant form: tree; leaf width: 10 mm; flower colour: red). This key contains 30 characters and more than 100 character states.

Character states scored in this key were taken from printed and online botanical descriptions, images, and examination of herbarium specimens held at the Allan Herbarium (CHR, Lincoln) and National Forestry Herbarium (NZFRI, Scion, Rotorua).


More than 1,600 plant images have been built into the NZ Myrtaceae Key. These have been selected to show a range of diagnostic characters helpful in identification.

Images were sourced from the authors’ own collections, and from those of our collaborators, including Alex Fergus, Chris Morse, David Glenny, and Peter Heenan (MWLR); Jeremy Rolfe and John Barkla (Department of Conservation); Trevor James (AgResearch); and the late Phil Bendle (CitSciHub). We also gratefully acknowledge the iNaturalist community for contributing images.

All photographers are named in the image captions, along with their chosen Creative Commons licences.


The NZ Myrtaceae Key was developed during 2019/20 by botanists Murray Dawson (MWLR), Matt Buys and Elizabeth Miller (National Forestry Herbarium), Peter de Lange (Unitec), Chris Ecroyd, and Colin Ogle.

The wider team of developers included Mike Cochrane, Paula Greer, Ray Prebble, and Rob Smissen (MWLR), and staff from MPI Biosecurity New Zealand (PHEL Botany, Mycology and Bacteriology teams, and Operational Research).


This key was built using Lucid software. Please see ‘Using the key’ for tips on best practice for using Lucid identification keys. LucidTM is a trademark of Identic Pty Ltd.

The NZ Myrtaceae Key is available from Google Play (Android) and Apple’s App Store (iOS) as mobile (smartphone) apps suitable for undertaking identifications in the field. In addition, a web-based (browser) version is hosted by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research (MWLR).

Further reading
Websites (as at October 2020)