Pimelea urvilleana subsp. urvilleana


Pimelea: from the Greek pimele, referring to the seeds
urvilleana: After D'Urville Island, which is named in honour of Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville (23 May 1790 - 8 May 1842) - a French explorer, naval officer and rear admiral, who explored the south and western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica.

Common Name(s)


Current Conservation Status

2012 - Data Deficient

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Pimelea urvilleana A.Rich. subsp. urvilleana



Brief Description

Very low-growing sprawling shrub with densely white-hairy twigs bearing clustered pairs of thick blue-green leaves, hairy white flowers and white fruit inhabiting coastal areas south to Nelson. Leaves 3-6mm long by 2-3mm, underside shiny.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Pimelea urvilliana A.Rich. subsp. urvilliana other. var.; Pimelea urvilliana A.Rich. orth. var.; Pimelea prostrata var. urvilleana (A. Rich.)


Endemic. North Island: Te Paki (North Cape), Karikari Peninsula, Cavalli Islands, Whangaroa Harbour, Bay of Islands, Helena Bay. Alderman Islands, Taranaki, Egmont Coast. South Island: Tasman Bay (Astrolabe Passage), Marlborough Sounds.


Coastal. Rock outcrops, cliffs, sometimes in scrub.


A small to medium-sized prostrate shrub; stems moderately stout but flexible, up to 300 mm long. Branching notably sympodial with some laterals. Branchlets densely covered by matted white hair. Internodes 1–3 mm long. Older stems slightly hairy, grey-brown. Node buttresses smooth, black, lunate, masked by hair on young stems. Leaves decussate but usually distichously arranged, ascendant on youngest branchlets, patent later. Lamina 3–6 × 2–3 mm, thick, narrow-elliptic to ovate, flat or slightly keeled. Tip usually obtuse. Stomata abundant adaxially, none or rare abaxially. Abaxial surface glistens. Inflorescences 5–7-flowered compact, receptacles very hairy. Involucral bracts 4, similar in size to adjacent leaves. Plants gynodioecious. Flowers small, white, outside very hairy, inside sparsely hairy in upper tube. Calyx lobes opening in salverform fashion or ascendant. Female tube 1.8 mm long, ovary portion wrinkled, 1.5 mm, calyx lobes 1.2 × 1 mm. hermaphrodite tube 3.8 mm long, ovary portion 2.5 mm, calyx lobes 2 × 1.5 mm. Anther dehiscence semi-latrorse. Ovary with a tuft of long hair on summit. Fruits white, fleshy, opaque 5 × 3.5 mm. Seeds broad ovoid 3 × 1.8 mm.

Similar Taxa

See Pimelea urvilleana subsp. nesica. Description from: Burrows, C.J. 2009: Genus Pimelea (Thymelaeaceae) in New Zealand 2. The endemic Pimelea prostrata and Pimelea urvilliana species complexes. New Zealand Journal of Botany 47: 163–229.


Unknown. Burrows (2009) states: Summer

Flower Colours




Propagation Technique

Probably easily grown from semi-hardwood cuttings and rooted pieces. As with other pimelea seed is probably difficult to germinate.


See notes

Chromosome No.

2n = 36

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Probably not commercially available

Notes on taxonomy

Burrows (2009) offers a very clear (for the first time ever for this species) interpretation of Pimelea urvilleana, and as such splits it into two subspecies. Based on that interpretation he argues that P. urvilleana subsp. urvilleana is close to if not already extinct. However, it is stated that the genome survives in hybrids. No evidence is provided to back that claim up beyond empirical observations and some minor morphological assessments of herbarium material. Clearly further information is required, and, as many of the sites where this subspecies occurs are well protected reserves (often Nature Reserves) it is hard to see why it has become so scarce. Obviously careful survey of past habitats, using Burrows new interpretation of this species and subspecies is needed before any firm conclusion on its conservation status can be determined.


Fact sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange (17 October 2009). Description adapted from Burrows (2009).

References and further reading

Burrows, C.J. 2009. Genus Pimelea (Thymelaeaceae) in New Zealand 2. The endemic Pimelea prostrata and Pimelea urvilliana species complexes. New Zealand Journal of Botany 47: 163–229.

This page last updated on 22 Oct 2014