Crassula kirkii


Crassula: From the Latin crassus 'thick', meaning 'rather thick'
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)

Kirk’s crassula

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Gradual Decline


2012 - Sp
2009 - DP


Crassula kirkii (Allan) A.P.Druce et D.R.Given



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


Tillaea kirkii Allan, Tillaea diffusa Kirk nom. illeg.


Present in New Zealand in sites along the South Wellington coast and on Stewart Island, parts of the West Coast and Southland. Also on the Chatham Islands.


Brackish stream sides and turf, near lagoons or estuaries and at coastal stream mouths.


A creeping mat-like, moss-green to reddish-green, succulent herb, rooting freely at leaf nodes. Its leaves are linear-elliptic to oblong in shape, with blunt to pointed leaf tips. Flowers are miniscule, star-like, borne in leaf axils and are usually pink, pinkish-white, only rarely white or tinged green.

Similar Taxa

Perhaps closest to C. ruamahanga but a large plant which has broadly obtuse leaves (these often turning reddish in exposed situations - a colour never seen in C. ruamahanga), and usually larger pink flowers with ovate to elliptic ovate petals. Cytologically this species has 2n = 84 chromosomes while C. ruamahanga have 2n = 42.


Flowers may be found throughout the year

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White


Fruits may be found throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from the division of whole plants and fresh seed. Grows very easily with spontaneous plants readily arising from seed in cultivation. Can become a troublesome weed in some garden situations.


This species requires open sites near brackish streams, lagoons and estuaries. Provided the turf habitats it occupies are kept open and free of taller vegetation Crassula kirkii is easily maintained. In New Zealand populations have declined in the northern part of its range due to weed invasions and coastal development.

Chromosome No.

2n = c.78, c.84

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Minute follicles are dispersed by wind and water and possiblty also by attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available. However, plants are held by several specialist native plant nurseries and at least one university. Due to its weedy nature it is unlikely to be widely grown. Nevertheless plants have potential as a ground cover in poorly drained soils, and will grow in heavy shade or strong sun. The pinkish-white flowers are pleasantly scented, and in strong light the foliage often turns dark red.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 February 2008. Description based on Webb et al. (1988)

References and further reading

Webb CJ, Sykes WR, Garnock-Jones PJ 1988. Flora of New Zealand. Vol. IV. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch.

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 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 3 Jul 2014