Aciphylla montana var. gracilis


Aciphylla: From the Latin acicula 'needle' and the Greek phyllum 'leaf', meaning needle-leaf.
montana: From the Latin mons 'mountain', meaning growing on mountains
gracilis: slender

Common Name(s)

None known

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 - DP, RR


Aciphylla montana var. gracilis (W.R.B.Oliv.) 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


Aciphylla gracilis W.R.B.Oliv.


Endemic. South Island very localised, east of the main distribution of A. montana J.F.Armstr. var. montana, confined to south Canterbury and northern Otago in the Hawkdon, Kirkliston and St Bathans Ranges and near Lake Ohau.


Alpine (1200-1600 m a.s.l.) in tall tussock grassland, rarely near rock outcrops.


Rosettes up to 5 per plant, each up to 250 mm diameter. Leaves coriaceous, yellow-green, up to 230 mm long, with 2(-3) leaflets, usually in one plane; sheath 80 x 5-15 mm, sheath joint obscure; stipules up to 70 x 1 mm, shorter than to almost as long as the petiole; petiole up to 90 x 3 mm, more or less convex above, margins rounded, pulvinus evident, up to 12 mm long, lamina more or less obtriagnular in outline, lowermost leaflet up to 130 x 2.5-4 mm, apex acute, spine 2 mm long, midrib obscure, marginrib 0.2 mm wide, veins not raised. Inflorescences narrow. Female inflorescence up to 400 mm long, with a stem 490 x 11 mm, yellow-orange; head 140 x 30 mm, more or less lanceolate in outline; compound umbels 20-25, arranged in 5-7 whorls, the terminal umbel smaller than the lower laterals; lower bracts 80 mm long, with a sheath up to 35 x 9 mm, stipules and 1-2 pairs fo leaflets; upper bracts smaller and simple with stipules. Lower compound umbels up to 35 mm long with peduncles up to 20 x 2 mm, occasionally sessile, primary bracteoles minute, simple umbels up to 6 with peduncles up to 12 x 0.7 mm, the innermost umbels sessile; secondary bracteoles simple, 7 x 1 mm; up to 15 flowers per umbel, pedicels up to 2.5 x 0.2 mm. Sepals up to 0.3 mm; petals up to 1 x 0.5 mm, not inflexed; staminodes up to 0.5 mm long. Male inflorescences up to 520 mm , stem 270 x 12 mm, yellow-orange; head 260 x 80 mm, lanceolate in outline; compound umbels up to 38, in 5-7 whorls, the terminal umbel smaller than the lower laterals; bracts similar to those of the female; lower compound umbels up to 80 mm long, usually as a whorl of 2 simple umbels on the peduncles, this up to 70 x 2 mm; up to 13 simple umbels with peduncles 12 x 0.4 mm, bearing up to 15 flowers per umbel, pedicels 2 x 0.1 mm. Sepals 0.3 mm; petals 1.2 x 0.8 mm, not inflexed; stamens up to 2 mm long. Mericarps 4.5 x 0.5 mm, dull pale brown, lateral ribs < 0.5 mm wide; style up to 1.2 mm.

Similar Taxa

Aciphylla montana J.F.Armstr. var. montana is very similar (if not conspecific) it differs chiefly by its larger stature, with plants forming rosettes of 25 or more (rather than 5 or less ), leaves up to 300 rather than 230 mm long, and by the female inflorescences being up to 600 rather 400 mm tall. In A. montana var. montana there are usually 3 but sometimes 4 leaflet pairs, while var. gracilis usually has 2 pairs of leaflets.


December - March

Flower Colours



January - April

Propagation Technique

Difficult - requires specialist curation within an alpine house or in pots. Best in a climate prone to very cold winters and dry but cool summers. Requires free draining soils and full sun, in a moderately fertile substrate. Resents humidity and will not flower unless subject to cold treatment.


Does not appear to be under any serious threat, rather this is a narrow-range endemic, locally common within its few known habitats. It may be threatened by browsing animals at some more accessible sites.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy
Not commercially available



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.

This page last updated on 12 Nov 2014