Bulbinella gibbsii var. balanifera


Bulbinella: little bulb
gibbsii: Named in honor of Frederick G Gibbs (1866-1953)

Common Name(s)

Maori onion

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


2012 - RR


Bulbinella gibbsii var. balanifera L.B.Moore



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

Monocotyledonous Herbs




Endemic. North and South Islands. In the North Island known from the southern Ruahine and Tararua Ranges. In the South Island known from the ranges about Arthurs Pass south to Fiordland.


Alpine in free draining, open habitats such as tussock grassland, the bases of talus slopes and in herbfield. Rarely in subalpine scrub.


Subdioecious, diminutive, summer green, fleshy, lily up to 600 mm tall. Leaves up to 30 mm wide, strap-like, reddish green to dark green, fleshy. Peduncle mostly shorter than raceme. Peduncle longer, often exceeding leaves. Raceme mostly conical (rarely cylindric), the axis visible between flowers. Pedicels 10-20 mm long, swollen below flower, elongating slightly after anthesis. Bracts shortly-acuminate, notably shorter than pedicel in flowering and fruiting material. Flowers 10-14 mm diameter, dark yellow, numerous, densely crowded; tepals patent, becoming erect and hardening as fruit matures. Stamens 6, < tepals; anthers mostly well filled with pollen. Ovary barrel-shaped, scarcely stipitate. Capsules barrel-shaped. Seeds dark and narrowly winged.

Similar Taxa

Bulbinella gibbsii Cockayne var. gibbsii is a smaller plant that var. balanifera with shorter peduncles and pedicels. The subtending bracts greatly exceed the pedicels. The ovary and capsules are broadly ovoid rather than barrel-shaped, and are not slightly stipitate. Bulbinella gibbsii var. gibbsii is confined to Stewart Island.


January - February

Flower Colours



February - June

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild. Has been cultivated with limited success in the more southerly parts of the country.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 14

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.



Description modified from: Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington. 354pp.

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington. 354pp.

This page last updated on 23 Sep 2014