Eleocharis neozelandica


Eleocharis: charm of the swamp

Common Name(s)

Sand spike sedge, spikesedge

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining

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 - At Risk - Declining
2004 - Gradual Decline


2012 - DP, EF
2009 - EF, DP


Eleocharis neozelandica Kirk



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





Endemic to North and South Islands. Scarce in the South Island and now only known from Farewell Spit.


Damp sand flats, often near streams or in places where fresh water filters through the sand at depth or where it is temporarily ponded.


Rhizomatous, widely creeping and mat-forming spike-sedge of damp sandy flats. Rhizomes brown, 1 mm diam. Culms 30-60(-80) x 0.5-1 mm, rigid, curved, sheaths membraneous, lower purple-brown, upper brown with orifice slight to very oblique, tapering to a sharp point. Spikelets 5-6(-8) x 1-4 mm, 4-10-flowered, broadly ovoid, acute to obtuse, broader than culm. Glumes 2.5-3.5 mm, ovate, obtuse, uninverved. Hypogynous bristles absent. Stamens (2-)3. Style 2-fid. Nut 1.5-2 x 1 mm., assymetrically obovate, biconvex, narrowed in lower half, smooth, shining, golden-brown, style base persistent, small.

Similar Taxa

Could only be confused with E. gracilis which may also grow in similar habitats. However, that species has hypogenous bristles, a trifid style and trigonous nuts. E. neozelandica has no hypogenous bristles, a bifid style and biconvex nut.


Flowers may be found throughout the year


Fruit may be found throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from division of whole plants and fresh seed but short-lived and difficult to maintain over time. Does best if repotted regularly with the soil kept damp. Does not persist for long in most garden situations.


Vulnerable through natural perturbations of its sand flat habitat. Some populations have been lost due to coastal development and through the spread of weeds. Naturally an ephemeral species which does not generally persist for long at any particular site.

Chromosome No.

2n = 30

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Bristly nuts are dispersed by water and possibly wind and attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970) and Stanley (1999)

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.

Stanley, R. 1999. A new record for Eleocharis neozelandica. Auckland Botanical Society Journal, 54: 2

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 12 Sep 2014