Carmichaelia nana


Carmichaelia: after Carmichael, a botanist
nana: small

Common Name(s)

Dwarf carmichaelia

Current Conservation Status

2018 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable

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

2012 - At Risk - Declining
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


2012 - DP


Carmichaelia nana (Hook.f.) Hook.f.



Brief Description

Hard cushions of short tightly packed green leafless twigs. Twigs flattened, 1.5-2.5mm wide, yellowish to reddish. Flowers small, purple, inconspicuous at the tip of twigs. Fruit a small dry pod containing 1-3 hard yellowish seeds and which only partly opens.

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 Trees & Shrubs


Carmichaelia ensyii Kirk; Carmichaelia ensyii var. ambigua G.Simpson; Carmichaelia enysii var. orbiculata (Col.) Kirk; Carmichaelia orbiculata Col.; Carmichaelia australis var. nana Hook.f.


Endemic. New Zealand: North Island (Central Volcanic Plateau and adjacent ranges); South Island (Marlborough, Canterbury, and Otago).


Lowland to alpine. Inhabiting stable but unconsolidated alluvial river beds and eyots, river terraces, moraines, shingle slopes, lahar mounds and inland volcanogenic dunes


Dwarf, spreading shrub, 20-60 mm tall, 0.5 m wide, usually forming a dense mat of cladodes. Branches short, stout, often below ground level, 10-20 mm diameter. Cladodes linear, striate, compressed, usually erect and crowded, green or yellow-green, often hairy when young, glabrous at maturity, 10.0-50.0 × 1.5-2.5 mm; apex subacute, yellow, yellow-green, or red; leaf nodes 2-7. Leaves simple, obovate to broad-oblanceolate, fleshy, green, only occasionally present on seedlings and absent on adults, 4-5 × 1-2 mm; both surfaces hairy; apex retuse to obtuse; base cuneate; margins hairy; petiole glabrous or hairy, c.1 mm long. Leaves on cladodes reduced to a scale, narrow to broad-triangular, glabrous, < 1 mm long; apex subacute to obtuse. Stipules free, c.0.50 × c.0.25 mm; margin hairy. Inflorescence a raceme, 1-2 per node, each with l-4 flowers. Peduncle glabrous to hairy, green, 3-4 mm long. Bracts triangular, glabrous, pale green becoming membranous, < 0.5 mm long; apex subacute to obtuse; margin hairy. Pedicel glabrous or hairy, pale green, 1-2 mm long. Bracteoles on pedicel, glabrous, < 0.5 mm long; apex acute; margin hairy. Calyx campanulate, green to green-yellow, 1.5-2.0 × 1.0-2.0 mm; inner surface glabrous; outer surface glabrous to sparsely hairy. Calyx lobes narrow- to broad-triangular, c.0.5 mm long; apex subacute to obtuse, red to green; margin hairy or occasionally glabrous. Bud pale purple. Standard obovate, spreading horizontally above wings and keel, 4.5-6.5 × 4-5 mm; upper surface purple, with white margins and purple-veined; lower surface white, purple-veined; apex retuse; margin recurved; claw pale green, c.1.25 mm long. Wings oblong, longer than keel, 3.50-5.50 × c.1.25 mm; both surfaces white, flushed purple, sometimes purple-veined; auricle rounded, pale green or white, < 0.25 mm long; claw pale green, c. 2 mm long. Keel 4.50-5.00 × c.1.25 mm; distal area of both surfaces purple, white in central and proximal areas, sometimes purple-veined; auricle rounded, pale green or white, c.0.25 mm long; claw pale green, c.2 mm long. Stamens 3.5-5.0 mm long; lower filaments connate for c.½ length and with outside filaments free for 1.75-2.25 mm. Pistil exserted beyond stamens, 4-6 mm long; style glabrous or with few scattered hairs on adaxial surface; ovules 4-8. Pod short- or broad-oblong, occasionally broad-elliptic or ovate, laterally compressed, brown, black, or yellow-green, one valve partially dehiscent from upper replum, other valve usually indehiscent or only weakly dehiscent, 5.0-7.0 × 4.5-5.5 mm; beak in a central apical position, straight or slightly curved, 1-3 mm long. Seeds oblong-reniform, 1-3 per pod, yellow, yellow-green, green, or black, occasionally with green or black mottling, 2.50-3.00 × 1.75-2.00 mm.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from all other dwarf Carmichaelia species by its smaller flowers, usually short-oblong or broad-oblong pod, and having one valve partially dehiscent from the upper replum


November – February

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


January – May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from seed and hardwood cuttings. An attractive species that deserves wider cultivation. Dislikes humidity.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 32

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



Description adapted from Heenan (1995)

References and further reading

Heenan, P.B. 1995: A taxonomic revision of Carmichaelia (Fabaceae - Galegeae) in New Zealand (part I). New Zealand Journal of Botany 33: 455-475

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 23 Sep 2014