Celmisia similis


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
similis: similar to another species

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 similis 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 - Composites


None (first described in 1969)


Endemic. South Island: North-West Nelson, north of the Buller Valley and west of the Motueka Valley and tributaries.


Alpine and subalpine. Usually associated with with Chionochloa australis, Celmisia traversii, and C. spectabilis.


Small slender cushion-forming subshrub with branchlets up to 60 mm long. Living leaves tending to be near the tips of the branchlets and sometimes forming small rosettes. Leaf lamina linear, apiculate, rigid, reflexed at the base, 10-20 × l-2 mm; upper surface covered with a silvery to grey pellicle; lower surface with a loose scurfy grey tomentum; sheath ± 10 mm long. Scape 40.0-60.0 × 1.5mm, reddish, clad in deciduous eglandular hairs. Involucral bracts erect, up to 9 mm long, margins fringed with short hairs, abaxial surface bearing many eglandular hairs. Receptacle obconic and alveolate. Capitulum 10-15 mm diameter. Ray florets ± 10 mm long, tube glabrous. In disc florets, corolla tube gradually narrowed from apex to base, glabrous; stamen tip acute, anther tails short; style bifid, the arms differentiated into a lower parallel-sided papillose portion and an upper attenuate portion bearing long collecting hairs. Pappus bristles unequal, up to 4.5 mm long, with distant or sometimes moderately close fine teeth. Achene 1.5-2.0 × 0.4 mm, fusiform, compressed, weakly ribbed and clad in bifid hairs.

Similar Taxa

Similar to C. laricifolia from which C. similis differs in the darker distinctly red colour of the scapes, and by the stiffer and wider leaves which are silvery and pellicled on the upper surface (those of C. laricifolia being bronze-green and glabrous). Another distinction is that in fresh specimens the leaves of C. similis tend to be clustered towards the branchlet tips, whereas those of C. laricifolia are usually fairly evenly distributed along the branchlets


December - February

Flower Colours



January - April

Propagation Technique

One of the few Celmisia that is easily grown in most climates though it dislikes high humidity. Best grown in a moist, free draining soil, within some afternoon shade. Plants can be raised from division but are best grown from fresh seed.


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 based on Given (1980)

References and further reading

Given, D.R. 1969: Taxonomic notes on the genus Celmisia (Compositae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 7: 389-399.

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 2 Jun 2014