Celmisia argentea


Celmisia: Apparently named after Kelmis, one of Idaean Dactyls, a group of skilled mythical beings associated with the Mother Goddess Rhea in Greek mythology. Kelmis, whose name means ‘casting’, was a blacksmith and childhood friend of Zeus, son of Rhea and later king of the gods. In Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, Kelmis is described as offending Zeus who turned him into adamant so he was as hard as a tempered blade
argentea: silvery

Common Name(s)

silver cushion mountain daisy

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


Celmisia argentea Kirk



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 - Composites


Celmisia sessiliflora var. minor Petrie


Endemic. South Island: Otago and Southland from Garvie Mountains southwards


Montane to subalpine damp grassland and boggy places


Densely branched subshrub forming small cushions or sometimes mats up to ± 200 × 200 mm, usually rather shorter; branches up to c. 150 mm long, woody ascending, stout, clad in persistent leaf-remnants; branchlets very close-set, ± 50 mm. long, erect or ascending. Leaves numerous, very densely imbricate, ascending. Lamina ± 6.0-12.0 × 0.5-1.5 mm, coriaceous, linear-subulate, clad on both surfaces in greyish white appressed tomentum, concavo-convex; apex subacute to acute, sometimes subcucullate. Sheath ± = lamina, rather broader, pale, membranous, clad in long silky hairs on margins and back, becoming glabrous or nearly so. Capitula sessile or nearly so, terminal, sunk among apical leaves, ± 6-12 mm diameter; involucral bracts linear-subulate, almost scarious, pale except at dark tip, up to c.10 mm long, glabrous except for a few hairs at tip, midvein distinct. Ray-florets 8-10 mm long, white; tube very slender, limb about lanceolate, 3-4-toothed, veins evident. Disk-florets c. 7 mm long, very narrow-funnelform, teeth minute, triangular. Achenes c.3 mm long, narrow-cyclindric, subcompressed, ribs clad in very short ascending hairs. Pappus-hairs up to 6 mm long, white, slender, very finely barbellate

Similar Taxa

Can only be confused with Celmisia clavata and C. sessiliflora. From Celmisia sessiliflora it is distinguished by its smaller size and much shorter leaves (3.0-5.0 × 0.5-1.5 mm cf. 10.0-30.0 × 1.5-3.0 mm). Celmisia clavata is distinguished from C. argentea by the semi-woody and densely leafy clavate branches, and by the erect, rigid, closely imbricating leaves with abruptly narrowed, obtuse apices. However, as noted under C. clavata there is much variation within C. argentea with plants from Central Otago grading between that species and plants called C. clavata on Stewart Island. Further research, perhaps using more discriminating DNA markers is needed to determine if C. clavata is truly distinct from C. argentea.


October - January

Flower Colours



November - April

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Best grown from fresh seed but can be grown from cuttings. Should be planted in a free draining, moist soil. Excellent in a pot in an alpine house, or planted in a south-facing rockery. Dislikes humidity and will not tolerate drying out.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 108

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Pappate cypselae are dispersed by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.



Description adapted from Allan (1961)

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I, Government Printer, Wellington.

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 15 Aug 2014