Ficinia nodosa


Ficinia: Named after Heinrich David Auguste Ficinus, 19th century German botanist

Common Name(s)

wiwi, knobby club rush, ethel sedge

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


Ficinia nodosa (Rottb.) Goetgh., Muasya et D.A.Simpson



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



Scirpus nodosus Rottb., Isolepis nodosa (Rottb.) R.Br., Scirpoides nodosa (Rottb.) Sojak; Holoschoenus nodosus (Rottb.) Dietr.


Indigenous. Kermadec, Three Kings, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. Widespread in the southern Hemisphere


Mostly coastal but occasional extending into montane area (up to 700 m a.s.l.). In a wide range of habitats but favouring open situations - commonly on sand, especially on sand dunes, sandy beaches and at the back of estuaries. Sometimes colonising sandstone, limestone of volcanic rock outcrops in lowland forest. Rarely in tussock grassland.


Rhizome short, 5-10 mm diameter, ascending to subhorizontal, woody, covered with red-brown bracts 5-10 mm long. Culms numerous, somewhat woody, 0.15-2.0 m, 1-2 mm diameter, yellow-green to bronze-green, densely packed on rhizome, rush-like, rigid and erect (sometimes in lush specimens with upper third curving over), terete or slightly compressed, finely striated when dry. Leaves reduced to 3-6 basal sheaths, the uppermost 50-130 mm long, brown or red-brown, the oblique orifice slightly dilated. Inflorescence an apparently lateral, solitary, hemispherical head, 7-15 mm wide, comprised of numerous, densely crowded, sessile spikelets; subtending bract continuous with the culm, rigid, erect, pungent, > inflorescence. Spikelets 3-4 mm long, ovoid, light brown. Glumes broadly ovate, obtuse, margins entire, more or less apiculate. reddish towards the tips, lateral nerves conspicuous. Hypogynous bristles 0. Stamens 3. Style-branches 3. Nut 1 mm long, < 1 mm wide, plano-convex to trigonous, apiculate, dark brown to almost black, shining.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from Isolepis R.Br. by the larger overall size, stout, woody rhizomes, by the rigid and mostly erect somewhat woody culms, and by the presence of a gynophore.


September - December

Flower Colours



November - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by the division of whole plants. Does best when planted in a free draining soil in a sunny site. Ideal in coastal sites but remarkably cold tolerant.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 30

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Nuts are possibly wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Occasionally available from specialist native plant nurseries

Cultual importance

Ficinia nodosa is naturalised around the New Zealand World War II, soldier graves at Suda Bay, Crete.


Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970)

References and further reading

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

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 25 Sep 2014