Carex kirkii var. elatior


Carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
kirkii: after Thomas Kirk (18 January 1828 - 8 March 1898), a NZ botanist and lecturer in natural sciences and regarded as a leader of botanical enquiry in NZ for over three decades. One of his most significant publications was Forest flora of NZ (1889) but he also contributed over 130 papers to the Transactions and Proceedings of the NZ Institute and other journals.

Common Name(s)


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 - Data Deficient


Carex kirkii var. elatior Kük.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class





Endemic. New Zealand: South Island, North-West Nelson (Mt Arthur Plateau) and Otago (Mt St Bathans)


Unclear. Known only from gatherings made at two locations: - the Mt Arthur Plateau at 1200 m a.s.l. and from Mt St Bathans (at 900 m a.s.l.). The type variety grows in snow-tussock (Chionochloa) grassland and herbfield.


Shortly rhizomatous, bright to dark green densely tufted sedge. Culms much >> leaves, 80-210 × c.0.5 mm diameter, triquetrous, smooth, upper part not enclosed by leaf-sheaths; basal sheaths chestnut. Leaves 3-5 per culm, 90-350 × 0.5–1.5 mm, involute or flattened, wiry, striated, scabrid towards the acute tip. Inflorescence a compound spike, 10–40 × c. 5 mm, pale green or pale brown. Spikes distant, especially the lower ones, which may be with or without a subtending leaf-like bract; androgynous, male flowers terminal, occasionally absent in the lower spike. Glumes = or slightly >, rarely < utricles, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate or acute, membranous, light brown or almost colourless, midrib light green, prominent in the lowermost glumes and often scabrid towards the tip. Utricles 4.0-4.5 × c.1 mm, plano-convex, elliptic-obovoid, ± papillose, strongly nerved slightly winged; beak 1.5-2.0 mm long, scabrid on the margins, orifice oblique, bifid; stipe minute or absent. Stigmas 2. Nut c.2 mm long, plano-convex, oblong, shortly stipitate

Similar Taxa

Carex kirkii Petrie var. kirkii differs by the shorter culms (up to 40 mm cf. 210 mm in var. elatior) which remain hidden amongst the leaf-sheaths at maturity rather than elongating; shorter (up to 200 x 0.5 mm cf. 350 x 1.5 mm) involute rather than involute or flattened leaves; and shorter (10-15 x c.5 mm cf. 10-40 x c.5 mm) crowded rather than distinct spikes. The whole inflorescence is normally subtended by a leaf-like bract, which in var. elatior is usually absent (rarely present at the base of the lower few spikes).





Propagation Technique

Unknown. Probably rather like C. kirkii Petrie var. kirkii which is easily grown.


Unknown. This variety is only known from the type gatherings from the Arthur Plateau and from a single gathering from Mt St Bathans all made in the late 1800s. It has not been collected from the wild since. This variety may be extinct. However, as no specific surveys for it have been undertaken a definitive conservation assessment cannot yet be made.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


WheRe To Buy

Not commercially available.

Taxonomic notes

There is considerable doubt about the taxonomic validity of this variety. It is known from only a handful of collections.


Fact Sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange (110 August 2006). Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970) and from examination of type material held at AK (see images).

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington and from examination of type material held at AK (see images). 

This page last updated on 18 Jun 2015