Aciphylla lecomtei


Aciphylla: From the Latin acicula 'needle' and the Greek phyllum 'leaf', meaning needle-leaf.
lecomtei: Named after the 20th century French botanist Dr. Paul Henri Lecomte

Common Name(s)

le Comtes Spainard

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 - Range Restricted


2012 - Sp


Aciphylla lecomtei J.W.Dawson



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


None (first described in 1979)


Endemic. South Island, confined to the Remarkables, Hector and Garvie Ranges


Alpine (1400-1900 m a.s.l.) usually on rock in steep crevices, leages and hollows of rock outcrops and cliff faces, or amongst boulders, rarely in surrounding tall-tussock grassland.


Rosettes up to 350 mm diameter in groups of 25 or more. Leaves coriaceous, yellowish-green, up to 250 mm long, 1-pinnate, usually with 4 pairs of leaflets, these more or less plane; sheath up to 90 x 6-12 mm, sheath joint obscure; stipules 35 x 1-1.5 mm, simple; petiole up to 45 x 3-54 mm, more or less convex above, margins rounded, pulvinus evident, 8-10 mm long; lamina obtriangular in outline, lowermost leafleft up to 100 x 3-4 mm, apex acute with a spine 1 mm long, margins finely tuberculate, mid- and margin ribs 0.2 mm wides vein not raised. Inflorescences broad. Female inflorescence up to 520 mm or more long, stem 300 x 10 mm, pale yellow to brown; head 125 x 90 mm, more or less ovate in outline; compound umbels 12-16, usually arranged in 3 or 4 whorls, the terminal umbel larger than to about the same size as the laterals; lower bracts 70 mm long with a sheath 20 x 4-8 mm, stipules, and 1-2 pairs of leaflets, upper bracts smaller and simple with stipules. Lower compound umbels up to 70 mm long with peduncles up to 50 x 2.5 mm; primary bracteoles simple, up to 9 x 1 mm; simple umbels 13 with peduncles up to 15 x 0.8 mm; secondary bracteoles simple, up to 7 x 1 mm; 15 flowers per umbel, pedicels 3 x 0.2 mm. Sepals up to 0.8 mm long; petals up to 1.4 x 0.7 mm, not inflexed; staminodes up to 0.6 mm long. Male Inflorescence up to 420 mm long, stem 290 x 8 mm, pale yellow to brown; head 140 x 105 mm, almost circular in outline; compound umbels c. 8, tending to be in 2-3 whorls, the terminal umbel generally larger than the laterals; bracts and bracteoles similar to female inflorescences; lower compound umbels up to 80 mm long with peduncles up to 15 x 0.4 mm; 20 flowers per umbel and pedicels up to 5 x 0.2 mm. Sepals up to 0.8 mm long; petals up to 1.3 x 0.6 mm, not inflexed; stamens up to 2.5 mm long. Mericarps 4.1 x 2 mm, dull, pale brown, lateral ribs up to 0.4 mm wide; style up to 1.2 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Most likely to be confused with A. similis Cheeseman which is found well north of the range of A. lecomtei in an area centred on the Two Thumb Range to about the Lewis Pass and west thereof. A. lecomtei differs from A. similis by its preference for rocky rather than grassland habitats, its more robust growth habit, larger rosettes and in having 4 pairs of leaflets rather than 6-7 or more. From A. montana J.F.Armstr. var. montana, A. lecomtei differs by having 4 rather than 3 leaflets, more clearly defined rosettes, and A. lecomtei has broad rather than narrow inflorescences. A. montana is allopatric from A. lecomtei.


December - February

Flower Colours



January - April

Propagation Technique

Has been cultivated in the past by Mr Jim le Comte of Alouette Nurseries, Ashburton but probably not in cultivation now. Its cultural requirements are not clear but it was grown successfully for 10 years in Hamilton City in the Waikato in a sunny, free draining soil.


A narrow range endemic common within its known geographic range. Accessible plants maybe browsed by animals

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Winged schizocarps are dispersed primarily by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 28 May 2006: Description adapted from Dawson (1979).

References and further reading

Dawson, J. W. 1979: Aciphylla montana Armstrong, A. lecomtei sp. nov., and related species. New Zealand Journal of Botany 17: 339-351.

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 12 Nov 2014