Celmisia verbascifolia subsp. verbascifolia


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 Hook.f. subsp. verbascifolia



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs - Composites


Celmisia petiolata Hook. f.; Celmisia brownii Chapman


Endemic. South Island: from about Amuri Pass south along and west of main divide to Fiordland; Also in scattered localities east of the main divide especially in central Canterbury.


A plant of high rainfall areas. In areas of >= 2500 mm rainfall it is commonly found in open herbfield and grassland but on mountains with less precipitation it is almost confined to cool south-facing, constantly moist sites such as shaded rocky slopes and the sides of gorges


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 forming a loose mat of rosettes. Leaf sheaths densely imbricate and compacted into a pseudostem. Leaf lamina up to 300 × 12-70 mm, usually coriaceous 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 or densely yellow-tomentose when young but hairs usually deciduous; lower surface dull, densely covered in a tomentum of cream to buff hairs, veins obscure; tip acute; margins entire, flat, with a very narrow rim of hairs slightly darker than those of lower surface; base obliquely cuneate to rounded, occasionally truncate; petiole short, up to about 2/3 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 60 mm diameter. Involucral bracts cream, tomentum, 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

Distinguished from other allied Celmisia –except C. rigida by the large coriaceous to submembranous leaves, whose upper surface is often glabrate but whose leaf margins are consistently fringed with buff coloured hairs. The tomentum of the leaf undersides is distinctly appressed and dull. Celmisia rigida differs by the rigidly coriaceous leaves whose margins are fringed in dark brownish coloured hairs, by the distinct rather than inconspicuous leaf veins and by the leaf undersides which are finely covered in appressed, cream-coloured lustrous hairs. 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

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.



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 2 Jun 2014