Across the South Pacific in Australia, New Zealand, and Borneo are about 60 species of this shiny leaf shrub. The genus was classified by the German, Johann Reinhold Forster in the late 18th century. Some species of Coprosma carry an unusual "catty"odor which led Forster to derive this genus name from the Greek for a fetid smell. One of the most famous collectors of Coprosma species was I. Bauer, who traveled New Zealand in 1804-1805. This cultivar is largely derived from robust but highly variable C. australis, a species introduced from New Zealand in 1823. Other qualities may be credited to a half dozen other species in cultivation. This variegated hybrid was introduced in New Zealand, and introduced in the U.S. by Monrovia Nursery Company, Azusa, California.
In the South Pacific and New Zealand, indigenous peoples use the wood and inner bark of coprosma as a yellow dye that requires no mordant. The leaves are used for an antibacterial wound poultice. Seeds are ground as a coffee substitute.