Crassula multicaulis


Crassula: From the Latin crassus 'thick', meaning 'rather thick'

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Endangered

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 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
2004 - Sparse


2012 - EF, RR, Sp
2009 - EF, DP


Crassula multicaulis (Petrie) A.P.Druce et 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 other than Composites


Tillaea multicaulis Petrie


Endemic. In the North Island known only from one old record from Cape Palliser. In the South Island scarce in North West Nelson, southern Marlborough and Canterbury, North and Central Otago.


Coastal, lowland to alpine (0- 1800 m a.s.l.) in open, seasonally damp ground, such as clay or salt plans or around tarn margins. It has also been collected from braided river beds.


Annual to short-lived perennial forming dark red, pink or green, moss-like mats; stems initially decumbent, soon ascending, rooting at nodes, much-branched from base, branches reaching up to 60 mm tall. Leaves fused at base, 1-3 x 0.6-0.7 mm, 0.3-0.4 mm thick, triangular-lanceolate, flattened above, strongly convex and keeled below; apex very acute, usually conspicuously apiculate. Flowers soliary in upper leaf axils, fragrant, stellate, 4-merous, 3.5-5 mm diam.; pedicels 2(-5) mm long, elongating at fruiting. Calyx lobes 0.5-0.8 x 0.5-0.6 mm, triangular, acute, usually apiculate. Petals 1.6-1.8 x 1.3 mm, broadly elliptic-ovate, white or pink, or pink-flushed, apex rounded, much > calyx. Scales 0.7 mm long, oblanceolate. Follicles smooth. Seed 0.5 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Crassula multicaulis is very distinctive, the combination of an almost annual habit, preference for ephemeral wetlands in seasonally dry habits, usually dark red colouration, keeled, apiculate leaves, and large, often pedicellate flowers with elliptic-ovate rounded petals mark it out from all other indigenous Crassula.


November - April

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White


November - May

Propagation Technique

Easy from rooted pieces, fresh seed and stem cuttings. An attractrive plant with pleasantly scented flowers. In cultivation it normally forms a large, but short-lived mound. This species needs regular rejuvenation from fresh cuttings or rooted pieces to maintain the plant.


Recent field work by M. Thorsen (pers. comm.) suggests that this species is seriously threatened. Its preferred habitats are now largerly drained or taken over by exotic weeds, and his fieldwork could only locate 2 small populations at a moderately high altitude where these agents of decline were less frequent (but still present). It has not been seen in the North Island since the 1950s, and is scarce north of Otago, with one site known in the 1000 Acre Plateau area of NW Nelson.

Chromosome No.

2n = 56

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Minute follicles are dispersed by wind and water and possiblty also by attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 November 2005. Description adapted from Allan (1961), Webb et al. (1988) and de Lange et al. (2010).

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Wellington, Government Printer.

de Lange, P.J.; Heenan, P.B.; Norton, D.A.; Rolfe, J.R.; Sawyer, J.W.D. 2010: Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Christchurch, Canterbury University Press. 471pp

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

Webb, C.J.; Sykes, W.R.; Garnock-Jones, P.J. 1988: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. IV. Naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, Dicotyledons.Christchurch, New Zealand, Botany Division, D.S.I.R..

This page last updated on 12 Nov 2014