Schoenoplectus pungens


pungens: sharp-pointed

Common Name(s)


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


Schoenoplectus pungens (Vahl) Palla



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 pungens Vahl; Scirpus novae-zelandiae Colenso; Scirpus americanus Pers. mispl. name; Schoenoplectus americanus (Pers.) Volkart ex Schinz et R.Keller, mispl. name; Fimbristylis rara R.Br.; Iria rara (R.Br.) Kuntze


Indigenous. North, South and Chatham Islands. In the North Island found from West Auckland and Coromandel south, often scattered and apparently absent from Taranaki, extending inland along the Waikato River. In the South Island scattered and uncommon in Westland and Fiordland - found inland at Pareora Gorge (Canterbury) and Central Otago. Common on Chatham Island. Widespread in western Europe, America and Australia.


Coastal to montane (up to 400 m a.s.l.). Usually not far from the sea in saltmarshes, brackish swamps and estuaries. Also more rarely found inland around freshwater lakes and ponds, and in damp saline slacks. Also recorded from waters draining geothermal sites along the Waikato River.


Summer-green perennial. Rhizome 2-8 mm diameter, woody, with membranous, chartaceous scales at the nodes and numerous reddish fibrous roots. Culms 0.15-1.8 m, 1-6 mm diameter, pale glaucous-grey to dark green, triquetrous, with concaves sides, smooth, soft, bearing 1-2 very thin, membranous sheaths at the base. Leaves 1-4, < culm, 1-3 mm wide, linear, channelled, becoming triangular with margins sparingly scabrid towards the obtuse apex, adaxial surface membranous with obvious internal septa; sheaths long, closed, largely membranous. Inflorescence apparently lateral, of 1-4 unequal, closely compacted, sessile, spikelets; subtending bract 20-60 mm long, similar to stem and continuous with it, scabrid towards apex. Spikelets 6-11 x 3-5 mm, ovate, elliptic, dark purple-brown. Glumes broadly ovate, smooth, membranous, margins fimbriate, emarginate, midrib prolonged, mucronate, <, equal to or rarely slightly > small, round teeth of glume apex. Hypogynous bristles 2-6, < nut, retrorsely scabrid, red-brown. Stamens 3. Style-branches 3. Nut 3 x 2 mm, obovoid, plano-convex to subtrigonous, prominently apiculate, smooth, grey-brown.

Similar Taxa

Schoenoplectus pungens is not easily confused with either S. californicus (C.A.Mey.) Palla or S. tabernaemontani (C.C.Gmel.) Palla, species that are much taller (up to 4 m cf. 1 m in S. pungens), and have umbellate inflorescences bearing many spikelets, rather than dense, compact, sessile inflorescences of 1-3 spikelets. Furthermore, neither S. californicus or S. tabernaemontani have culms that are uniformly 3-angled for their entire length.


October - January


January - June

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and the division of whole plants.


Not Threatened

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available


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.

This page last updated on 11 Aug 2014