Pimelea lyallii


Pimelea: from the Greek pimele, referring to the seeds
lyallii: Named after David Lyall (1817-1895), 19th century Scottish naturalist and surgeon with the Royal Navy, who explored Antarctica, New Zealand, the Arctic and North America and was a lifelong friend of Sir Joseph Hooker.

Current Conservation Status

2018 - 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

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Gradual Decline


2012 - RR, Sp


Pimelea lyallii Hook.f.



Brief Description

Low growing shrub with flexible twigs bearing crowded pairs of pointed leaves that are densely hairy underneath inhabiting dunes in southern New Zealand. Twigs usually buried in sand. Leaves 5-7mm long by 2-3mm wide. Flowers hairy, white, in clusters at tip of twigs. Fruit white.

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 Trees & Shrubs




Endemic. Confined to the Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island coastline.


Coastal in sand dunes and their associated swales.


A small to medium-sized shrub. Stems prostrate, flexible, up to 600 mm long, sometimes producing adventitious roots if buried by sand. Young branches ascendant and moderately to densely clad in long, white (sometimes yellowish) hairs; internode length 2.5–8.0 mm; older stems sparsely hairy to glabrous, brown. Node buttresses short, lunate (0.3–0.5 mm), smooth, brown, hairless, or with sparse, short hair, masked by internode hair on young stems, not prominent on leafless stems. Leaves usually distant, sometimes closely spaced and imbricate, ascendant, then patent or deflexed, persistent, on short (0.5 mm), often red petioles; lamina pale green, glabrous above, moderately densely to densely covered in white to yellowish hair below (also along margins and at tip); 5–7 mm long × 2–3 mm wide, elliptic to slightly ovate, flat to slightly concave above, midvein obscure below; acute, base cuneate. Stomata on both leaf surfaces. Inflorescences terminal on branchlets, loose, 3–4-flowered, sometimes clustered in groups of 2 or more; receptacles flat to convex, very hairy. Involucral bracts 4, up to 9 × 3 mm, sometimes with a few hairs on the upperside near the base, densely hairy below and on margins and tips. Plants gynodioecious. Flowers white, on short pedicels (0.5 mm); tube and calyx lobes very hairy outside; inside hairless. Female tube 3.5 mm long, ovary portion 3 mm, calyx lobes 1.2 × 0.9 mm; hermaphrodite tube 5 mm long, ovary portion 2 mm, calyx lobes 2.0 × 1.6 mm. Anther filaments inserted at mouth of tube; anther yellow. Ovary very hairy at summit. Fruits ovoid, fleshy, 5.0 × 3.8 mm, white, opaque. The tube breaks off, irregularly, near the base as the fruits ripen. Seeds pyriform, with thin crest, 2.5 × 1.8 mm. Description based on Burrows (2009).

Similar Taxa

Pimelea lyallii is easily recognised within its natural habitat because it is the only species found within active to semi-stable dune fields. P. lyallii could only be confused with plants currently attributed to P. prostrata. From this it is perhaps best distinguished by its longer leaves and flower perianths. Herbarium material is less easily resolved, particularly when it is sterile.


October - April

Flower Colours



November - April

Propagation Technique

Easy from semi-hardwood cuttings but difficult to maintain in cultivation.


Widespread along the south Otago, Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island coastlines but its range is contracting in the northern part due to dune consolidation, coastal development and the spread of weeds.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally available from some specialist native plant nurseries.

Notes on taxonomy

New Zealand Pimelea Sol. ex Gaertn. urgently require a full taxonomic revision using modern techniques.


Description based on Burrows (2008).

References and further reading

Burrows, C.J. 2009: Genus Pimelea (Thymelaeaceae) in New Zealand 3. The taxonomic treatment of six endemic hairy-leaved species. New Zealand Journal of Botany 47: 325-354.

This page last updated on 6 Jan 2014