Celmisia verbascifolia subsp. membranacea


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

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 verbascifolia subsp. membranacea (Kirk) 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 petiolata var. membranacea Kirk


Endemic. South Island: Brunner Range; Victoria Range; Spenser Mountains; along main divide south to about Amuri Pass.


Alpine. In rocky herbfield and shaded bluffs.


Woody-based herb with short branchlets arising from a multicipital stock, usually just below the soil surface; living leaves in few to numerous rosettes at the tips of branchlets; the whole plant either solitary or forming a loose mat of a few rosettes. Leaf sheaths densely imbricate and compacted into a pseudostem. Leaf lamina up to 100 × 12-70 mm, submembranous though often flaccidly so, leaves usually at first erect, becoming decumbent with age, elliptic, oblong, or occasionally obovate; upper surface sometimes obscurely sulcate, concolorous, pale to mid-green glabrate above when mature except on margin; lower surface dull, thinly covered in cream-coloured tomentum, veins obscure; tip acute; margins entire, flat, with a very narrow rim of hairs slightly darker than those of lower surface; base rounded to truncate; petiole up to and occasionally exceeding lamina length, green to purple, clad in floccose, whitish hairs. Scape purple, clad in whitish tomentum, up to 400 mm long; bracts numerous, erect, linear sometimes leaf-like; monocephalous. Capitula up to 40 mm diameter. Involucral bracts cream, glabrate, in several series, linear-subulate, erect, glabrate to silky tomentose. Ray florets 70-80, ligulate, the limb linear-lanceolate, white. Disc florets c. 130-170, funneliform, yellow; tube with eglandular, biseriate hairs. Achene fusiform-cylindric, ribbed, 4-5 mm long, glabrous or with scattered bifid hairs. Pappus unequal, c.6 mm long, of c. 20-30 bristles.

Similar Taxa

Celmisia verbascifolia subsp. membranacea differs from subsp. verbascifolia by the submembranous, rather than coriaceous leaves with rounded to truncate bases, and by the glabrate involucral bracts.


November - January

Flower Colours



December - March

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed but difficult to maintain. Dislikes high humidity. Best in a shaded site planted in a moist free draining soil.


Not Threatened

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


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 26 Sep 2013