Acaena anserinifolia


Acaena: From the Greek 'akanthos' thorn, referring to the spiny calyx that many species have
anserinifolia: with leaves like Potentilla anserina

Common Name(s)

Bidibid, hutiwai, piripiri

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


Acaena anserinifolia (J.R.Forst. et G.Forst.) J.B.Armstr.



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


Acaena pusilla (Bitter) Allan var. pusilla, A. pusilla var. suprasericascens Bitter, Acaena viridior (Cockayne) Allan. The names A. anserinifolia var. sericeinitens (Bitter) Allan and var. paucidens, are referrable to A. profundeincisa (Bitter) B.Macmillan.


Endemic. Found throughout the North, South, Stewart, and Chatham Islands. Naturalised on the Auckland and Campbell Islands.


Abundant from lowland to lower subalpine forest margins and in shrublands.


Stoloniferous, prostrate, trailing and perennial herb, forming diffuse to dense patches up to 1 m diam. Prostrate stems 1-1.5 mm diam. and < 1 m long, erect stems 1-1.5 mm diam., < 150 mm long (unless scrambling up through surrounding vegetation, in which case taller). Leaves 10-75 mm long, stipules 3-8-fid, leaflets 9-13, oblong, 4-17 x 2-9 mm, 7-15-toothed to base, dull green to yellow-green, basal leaves often mottled brown, upper surface sparsely to densely hairy, undersides paler, glaucescent to silvery, and very silky hairy, teeth tipped with a tuft of brush-like hairs. Inflorescence scape 40-120 mm long, covered in long, appressed hairs. Capitulum 5-8 mm diam. at flowering, 10-20 mm diam. (including spines) at fruiting; florets c. 50-60; sepals 4; stamens 2; anthers white or rose; style 1; white; achene 1. Fruit obconic, 3 x 12 mm, hairy, spines 4, pale brown, 4-9 mm long, barbed.

Similar Taxa

Often grows with Acaena novae-zelandiae but can be recognised by the distinctive tuft of brush-like hairs surmounting the leaf teeth apices. Undersides of leaves are distinctly silvery due to dense covering of appressed silky hairs. A. juvenca and A. emittens are closely related. Both can be easily recognised by their very gracile, slender, stems, rather diffuse foliage, by the distal 3-5 leaflets obovate and larger than the basal leaflets, and by the usually entire stipules.


October - January

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White


December - April

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and from rooted pieces.


Not Threatened.

Chromosome No.

2n = 42

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Spiny hypanthia are dispersed by attaching to fur, feathers and clothing and possibly also dispersed by wind and granivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).

References and further reading

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014