Caltha novae-zelandiae


Caltha: From the Greek kalathos 'goblet', refers to the form of the flower
novae-zelandiae: of New Zealand

Common Name(s)

New Zealand marsh marigold, yellow caltha

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

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


Caltha novae-zelandiae Hook.f.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


Psychrophila novae-zelandiae (Hook.f.) W.A.Weber


Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands from the main axial ranges of the North Island south.


Montane to alpine. Mostly in alpine flushes, seepages, around tarns and slow flowing streams. Also found seen in damp areas in open grassland and in similar sites in fell field and herb field


Glabrous, rhizomatous perennial of alpine flushes, seepages, bogs and stream sides. Plants forming a low turf with scapes 30-50(-180 mm) tall. Rhizomes stout, white, fleshy. Leaves radical, clustered; petiole up to 100 mm long, slender, grooved, expanded to form a membranous sheathing base. Lamina 8-25 × 4-12 mm, dark green (sometimes centrally blotched and/or marked with bronze), ovate-oblong to oblong, base 2-lobed, subcordate, apex deeply emarginate; margins slightly sinuate to entire; lobes upturned and ± appressed to lamina, almost to midsection of lamina. Scape solitary, short, 1-flowered, finally up to 180 mm long. Sepals 5-7, 10.0-30.0 × 1.8-3.0 mm, pale yellow, 3-nerved, linear-subulate, attenuate. Stamens 15-20; carpels 6-12, ovate in outline, 4-5 mm long; style stout, c.2 mm long. Ripe heads 12-18 mm diameter. Seeds 2-5 per follicle, 1.2- 2.0 mm long, glossy red-brown to dark purple brown, ovate to broadly ovate, or elliptic ovate.

Similar Taxa

Only reliably distinguished from other, small, alpine Ranunculus when flowering. From Caltha obtusa readily distinguished when flowering by the linear-subulate yellow rather than oblong-obovate white flowers, and vegetatively by the leaf margins which are shallowly sinuate to entire rather than crenate. Both Caltha obtusa and C. novae-zelandiae are easily distinguished from the uncommon, naturalised marsh marigold (C. palustris) by their much smaller size, turf-forming growth habit, ecology, and features of the foliage and flowers.


September - December

Flower Colours



December - March

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Can be grown in a pot but needs to be kept moist, free of bryophytes and algal growth. Needs plenty of light but resents high temperatures and humidity


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 48

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.

Taxonomic Notes

New Zealand plants had long been placed in the genus Caltha, they were then referred to Psychrophila, a decision which was over ruled on the basis of a detailed study by Schuettpelz & Hoot (2004).



Factsheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (28 March 2012). Description by P.J. de Lange.

References and further reading

Schuettpelz, E.; Hoot, S.B. 2004: Phylogeny and biogeography of Caltha (Ranunculaceae) based on chlroroplast and nuclear DNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 91(2): 247-253.

This page last updated on 13 Jan 2014