A fallen ancient tree has unearthed a rare and endangered plant in the Dansey Rd Scenic Reserve near Rotorua.

The rare shrub, called the Pittosporum kirkii, was spotted by the Rotorua Canopy Tours team earlier this week.

Pittosporum kirkii was one of four shrubs endemic to New Zealand and had been listed as at risk by the Department of Conservation since 2012.

Tour guide at Rotorua Canopy Tours Shelley Ogle was conducting a tour when a tree fell next to the group. As a trained ecologist her curiosity was piqued by the ancient tree.

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The rare shrub was spotted by the Rotorua Canopy Tours team earlier this week. Photo / Supplied
The rare shrub was spotted by the Rotorua Canopy Tours team earlier this week. Photo / Supplied

At the top of the tree next to a nest of perching lily, was a nest of Pittosporum kirkii.

This rare and endangered plant is sometimes parasitic but in this case was using the ancient tree as a perch.

Ogle said she did not recognise the plant at first and sent a photo of the leaves and seeds to a local ecologist.

He confirmed it was a "very rare" shrub, she said.

The plant was commonly found in the canopies of old-growth forest and was threatened by deforestation and possums.

General manager of Canopy Tours Paul Button said the find reconfirms their ecology strategy.

General manager of Canopy Tours Paul Button. Photo / Supplied
General manager of Canopy Tours Paul Button. Photo / Supplied

"There aren't many recent records of Pittosporum kirkii, so it's exciting to witness their return to this 1000-year-old forest.

"Each sighting of an endangered species in the reserve just confirms that our trapping efforts are making a real difference to the region," he said.

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Canopy Tours use a mix of DOC possum traps, and Goodnature A12 automatic possum traps across 250ha of the Dansey Rd Scenic Reserve, to help manage the pest's population in the native bush.

The Department of Conservation's local Rotorua office were notified and have confirmed it was a rare find.

DOC's Rotorua community supervisor Caraline Abbott said this was a positive indicator for forest health in the Dansey Rd Scenic Reserve.

 Pittosporum kirkii. Photo / Supplied
Pittosporum kirkii. Photo / Supplied

"It's really encouraging to find endangered species like these returning to the forest, it shows that trapping really does work and it massively benefits the native biodiversity of the area."

Rotorua Canopy Tours will leave the fallen tree after assessing its safety impacts.

"When the tree fell, it knocked down some branches and perching lilies, once we clear those, we'll leave the tree to rot and return to the forest, it's all part of the natural cycle," Ogle said.