Celmisia spectabilis subsp. spectabilis


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)

common mountain daisy, cotton plant

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 Hook.f. subsp. spectabilis



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs - Composites


Celmisia spectabilis var. angustifolia W. Martin; Celmisia spectabilis var. albomarginata W. Martin; Celmisia ruahinensis Colenso


Endemic. North and South Islands: In the North Island from the Raukumara Range; South though the central volcanoes, Kaimanawa Mountains; Kaweka Range; north-west Ruahine Range and Tararua Range. In the South Island present in north-west Nelson and from northern Marlborough south to Rakaia River and Mathias River, Canterbury.


Alpine and subalpine grassland and herbfield rocky sites


Woody-based herb forming mats or cushions 0.2-1.0 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 30-180 × 3-30 mm, (ratio of length to width 3.7-11); coriaceous, usually lanceolate-oblong to narrowly ovate; upper surface shining and sulcate: lower surface densely covered in soft felted pale buff to brown tomentum, midrib distinct; tip acute; margins entire and recurved, occasionally minutely toothed, with the lamina base distinctly angled; sheath green to deep 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 mostly glabrous, rarely hairy. 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 glabrous. Pappus hairs 5-9 mm long, barbellate.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from Celmisia spectabilis subsp. lanceolata by the broader shorter leaves (70-240 × 9-30 mm cf. 30-180 × 3-30 mm in subsp. spectabilis), pale buff to brown rather than almost white tomentum, and angled rather than attenuate leaf base. The sheath of subsp. lanceolata is greenish rather than green to deep purple, and the achenes usually sparsely in hairs rather than mostly glabrous (a feature of subsp. spectabilis). Celmisia spectabilis subsp. lanceolata is allopatric from subsp. spectabilis being known only from the eastern and northern Wairarapa. From subsp. magnifica, subsp. spectabilis differs by the broader and shorter leaves (70-290 × 10-45 mm cf. 30-180 × 3-30 mm in subsp. spectabilis); and by the cuneate to cuneate-truncate lamina base. 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.


October - February

Flower Colours



November - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed. Celmisia spectabilis is 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. Because it is highly variable some selection of wild forms suited to garden growing conditions is needed.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 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.

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 15 Aug 2014