Celmisia spectabilis subsp. magnifica


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
spectabilis: notable

Common Name(s)

cotton daisy, mountain daisy, shephards tobacco

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 spectabilis subsp. magnifica (Allan) 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


Celmisia spectabilis var. magnifica Allan


Endemic. South Island: Big Ben Range and Acheron Valley just north of Rakaia River, south to the Hunters Hills and Mount Studholme.


Alpine and subalpine grassland and herbfield rocky sites


Woody-based herb forming mats or cushions 2.0 m diameter; with branchlets arising from a usually hidden simple or multicipital stock. Living leaves in rosettes at the tips of branchlets, the whole forming a cushion or mat. Leaf sheaths densely imbricate and compacted, forming a pseudostem. Leaf lamina 70-290 × 1-45 mm, (ratio of length to width 5.6-10); coriaceous, usually lanceolate-oblong to narrowly ovate; upper surface shining and sulcate: lower surface densely covered in soft felted pale buff tomentum, midrib distinct; tip acute; margins entire and recurved, occasionally minutely toothed, with the lamina base cuneate to cuneate-truncate; sheath green to purple. Petiole thin with evident veins. Scape densely clad in floccose white hairs, stout, up to 300 mm long, bracteate, monocephalous Corolla of disc florets and achenes often with uniseriate and biseriate hairs, mostly hairy, rarely glabrous. Ray florets 40-100, ligulate, white. Disc florets 60-200, 5-9 mm long, funneliform: tube glabrous or with scattered uniseriate or biseriate hairs. Achene fusiform cylindric, grooved, 1.5-6.5 mm long, usually sparsely covered in bifid hairs, rarely glabrous. Pappus hairs 5-9 mm long, barbellate.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from Celmisia spectabilis subsp. spectabilis by the longer, broader leaves (70-290 × 1-45 mm cf. 30-180 × 3-30 mm in subsp. spectabilis), and cuneate to cuneate-truncate rather than angled leaf base. The achenes of subsp. sepctabilis are glabrous and those of subsp. magnifica mostly sparsely hairy. Celmisia spectabilis subsp. magnifica occurs to the south of the range of subsp. spectabilis from the Big Ben Range and Acheron Valley just north of Rakaia River, south to the Hunters Hills and Mount Studholme. From Celmisia spectabilis subsp. lanceolata, subsp. magnifica differs by its restriction to the South Island, and by its cuneate to cuneate-truncate rather than attenuate lamina base, and pale buff rather than almost white coloured tomentum. The leaf sheath of subsp. lanceolate is greenish rather than green to purple.


October - February

Flower Colours



November - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed. All three subspecies of Celmisia spectabilis are easily grown in most climates though they dislikes high humidity. They are best grown in a moist, free draining soil, within some afternoon shade.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = c.108

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionaly available from specialist native plant nurseries


Description based on Given (1984)

References and further reading

Given, D.R. 1984: A taxonomic revision of Celmisia subgenus Pelliculatae section Petiolatae (Compositae—Astereae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 22: 139-158.

This page last updated on 25 Sep 2013