Celmisia incana


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
incana: hoary (greyish white haired)

Common Name(s)

white 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 incana Hook.f.



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


Endemic. North and South Islands from Te Moehau (Coromandel Peninsula) south to Otago


Montane to alpine in grassland, herbfield, boulderfield, on rock outcrops and tors and other similar rocky places.


Stems stout, woody, up to ± 100 mm diameter; branches stout, woody, clad in long-persistent reflexed leaves; living leaves in close rosettes, patent. Lamina 20-40 × 10-15 mm, obovate-oblong, coriaceous; upper surface ± densely clad in appressed white tomentum forming a pellicle; lower surface densely clad in similar but more appressed tomentum, midrib evident to obscured; apex subacute to obtuse, often apiculate; margins very slightly recurved, remotely denticulate, narrowed to very short petiole up to 5 mm wide, or sometimes directly into thin almost glabrous striate sheath c.10-15 × 7-10 mm. Scape slender, up to 120 mm long, often short at flowering stage, densely clad in floccose hairs. Capitula 25-35 mm diameter; involucral bracts linear-subulate, many, 10-15 mm long, floccose on outer surface, glandular near apex. Ray-florets narrow, up to 12 mm long, white; limb gradually widening to apex. Disk-florets funnelform, c.7-8 mm. long, teeth narrow-triangular; anthers usually distinctly but shortly tailed. Achenes 3.0-3•5 mm long, compressed-cylindric; ribs rather obscure, clad in rather stiff ascending hairs. Pappus of white or sordid-white slender, minutely barbellate hairs up to 7-8 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised by the silvery white leaves which are hairy on both sides. It is most likely to be confused with Celmisia hectorii which has also has silvery white hairy leaves but in that species the leaves are linear-spathulate, linear-oblong to linear-obovate instead of obovate-oblong. Celmisia allanii regarded by some New Zealand botanists as distinct is seen here as part of the natural variation of C. incana. From C. incana it is said to differ by having smaller leaves, and by the tomentum of the underleaves being floccose rather than satiny but the distinctions are not clear cut.


September - March

Flower Colours



November - May

Propagation Technique

Best grown in non-humid climates. Celmisia incana is one of the few Celmisia that generally grows well in most garden conditions. However, it can be fickle. Best grown from fresh seed and planted in a fertile, free draining semi-shaded situation. Dislikes excessive moisture, and humidity.


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

Occasionally available from specialist native plant nurseries.

Notes on taxonomy

Celmisia allanii W.Martin is sometimes included within C. incana by New Zealand botanists. But this informal view has yet to be properly tested taxonomically. For this reason C. allanii is regarded as distinct from C. incana.


P.J. de Lange (7 April 2009). 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