Celmisia vespertina


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 vespertina 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: Mostly west of the Main Divide of the Southern Alps, from near the Taramakau Valley southwards to near Mount Aspiring. Otherwise known in the east only from the Ben Ohau Range


Alpine grassland and associated fell field


Woody-based perennial herb arising from a multicipital stock. Leaf lamina linear, rigid but recurved, 50-150 × 3-5 mm; upper surface grooved, dark green, clad in a thick pellicle which becomes golden on drying; lower surface clad in thick appressed white tomentum, midrib prominent; margins entire, often revolute. Sheath 30-60 mm long, membranous, yellow-orange and clad in a thin pellicle. Scape 100-150 mm × 2-3 mm, bracts few. Involucral bracts erect, linear-oblong to subulate, acute, up to 12 mm long, inner narrower than outer; margins fringed with long white hairs, particularly near the base; surface almost glabrous; venation simple. Receptacle obconic, upper surface alveolate. Ray florets up to 20 mm long, limb linear and glabrous, tube narrow with a few eglandular hairs near top. In disc florets, corolla tube gradually narrowed from apex to base, glabrous or sparsely hairy with long biseriate hairs; stamen tip acute, anther tails short; style bifid, the arms differentiated into a lower parallel-sided papillose portion and an upper short-triangular portion bearing short collecting hairs. Pappus bristles unequal, up to 4 mm long, with closely spaced short teeth. Achene 2.0-3.0 × 0.5 mm, fusiform, compressed, strongly ribbed and clad in bifid hairs.

Similar Taxa

Could be confused with Celmisia insignis a Marlborough endemic from which it differs its smaller achenes that are covered in bifid hairs rather than glabrous, by its shorter pappus, by the disc florets which have fewer corolla hairs and by its shorter, darker green and more distinctly grooved leaves. In addition, Celmisia insignis lacks the distinctive pellicle characterising dried specimens of C. vespertina. The species is similar to C. petriei and C. polyvena from both of which it differs by its intermediate size and leaf and by its distinctive pellicle and sheath colour.


December - February

Flower Colours



January - March

Propagation Technique



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 (1969)

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