Fimbristylis velata

Common Name(s)


Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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 - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Sparse


2012 - EF, SO, Sp
2009 - SO


Fimbristylis velata R.Br.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



Fimbristylis squarrosa Vahl


Indigenous. North Island from Ngawha Springs, the Bay of Islands, Pouto Peninsula and Great Barrier Island south to Lake Taupo. Most common in the Huntly Basin, particularly around Lakes Whangape, Rotongaro and Rotongaroiti. It is present near Ohinemutu and Whakarewarewa Geothermal Fields, near Rotorua and at Karapiti near Wairakei. Present in Australia and probably elsewhere.


A strict annual which is most often found along the shoreline or receeding shallow lakes and river margins where it grows in damp mud and organic sediments. It has also been found growing on permanently damp ground around active fumaroles within geothermal areas, and as a sporadic weed in ephemeral wetlands created by urban redevelopment within Hamilton City.


Annual sedge forming small pubescent, spreading tufts on freshly exposed sunny, usually damp and/or muddy ground. Culms 30-280 x 0.5-0.8 mm, rather flaccid and spreading, finely pubescent. Leaves usually < culms, brown-green to glaucous green, filiform to linear-lanceolate, channelled near base; sheaths broader, light brown to pale grey. Inflorescence a compound spreading umbel 10-40-80 mm long, sometimes reduced to a few near sessile spikelets; subtending bracts 3-4(-6) leaf-like,1-3 of these > umbel width. Spikelets 3.5-8 mm long, stalked, pale brown to glaucous brown. Glumes numerous, elliptic, with a prominent, rigid, dark green scabrid keel, often extending to a mucro, and usually recurved in the lowermost glume of each spikelet. Stamens 1(-2), Style bifid, the bulbous base ringed by fine retrorse cilia, sufficiently copious to cover the ovary, but not (or rarely) extending beyond the mid-point. Nut 0.8-1 x 0.5-0.6 mm diameter, cream-coloured, biconvex, orbicular, smooth.

Similar Taxa

None though it could be confused with some annual species of Juncus, for example J. bufonius L. with which it often grows. From that species it is readily distinguished by its wide spreading, pubescent culms, umbellate inflorescences, and obvious spikelets.


October - March


October - June

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed. Can become quite invasive but it is cold sensitive and cannot tolerate much competition from taller plants. Does best in pots or in permanently damp ground in a warm, sheltered, sunny place.


Long regarded as seriously at risk of extinction because the few known occurrences were on the brink of extinction this situation changed in the late 1980s following its surprise rediscovery in the Waikato lowlands, where, particularly around Lakes Whangape, Rotongaro and Rotongaroiti it can be one of the dominant species growing on the receding lake shores during summer. Ecologically this is a biologically sparse species which appears to be an opportunistic of freshly disturbed wetland habitats. For example it has even been collected as a wetland weed in parts of Hamilton City.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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

Where To Buy

Not commercially available

Taxonomic Notes and Comments

The New Zealand plant was last treated here by the New Zealand Flora series as F. squarrosa (Moore & Edgar 1970). However, the New Zealand plant has since been shown by Wilson (1993) to be referrable to F. velata.

It has been suggested that this species is naturalised in New Zealand. That suggestion partly stemmed from an imperfect understanding of this species ecology, distribution, and its confusion with F. squarrosa. It is now recognised as quite widespread and its occurrences appear to be quite natural. The species was probably introduced to New Zealand by dabbling water fowl such as Grey Teal and other ducks, which frequent its preferred habitats in Australia.


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (6 August 2006). Description adapted from Moore & Edgar (1970).

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Wellington, Government Printer (as Fimbristylis velata)

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

Wilson, K.L. 1993: Cyperaceae. Flora of New South Wales 4: 378-379

This page last updated on 25 Sep 2014