Aciphylla trifoliolata


Aciphylla: From the Latin acicula 'needle' and the Greek phyllum 'leaf', meaning needle-leaf.
trifoliolata: with three leaflets

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
2009 - DP


Aciphylla trifoliolata Petrie



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




Endemic. South Island, upper Buller Gorge, on the Lyell Range.


Subalpine to alpine ( >1300 m a.s.l.) on rocky ground, in and around rock outcrops and in adjacent short grassland.


Stout rosetted plants with ascending leaves. Leaves cartilaginous, yellow to orange-green, up to 400 mm long, once-pinnate with 1-2 pairs of leaflets; sheath up to 75 x 8-19 mm; stipules simpe up to 40 x 1 mm, set up to 6 mm apart at insertions; petiole up to 110 x 4.5 mm, concave, margins acute, sheath joint evident, pulvinus evident, up to 10 mm long; lamina mor eor less obtrullate in outline; lowermost leaflet up to 190 x 5.5. mm with an apical spine up to 3 mm long, margins and midribs yellow, up to 0.5 mm wide; marginal tubercules coarse, up to 0.15 mm wide, in a continuous series. Inflorescences narrow. Female up to 450 mm long with stems up to 285 x 7 mm, reddish brown; head up to 170 x 17 mm, lanceolate in outline; compound umbels up to 22; lower bracts up to 100 mm long with a sheath up to 28 x 8 mm, stipules up to 20 x 1.5 mm, lamina simple, up to 65 x 3.5 mm, all segments ascending to appressed. Lower compound umbels up to 30 mm long with peduncles up to 6 x 1 mm, primary bracteoles often absent; up to 4 simple umbels with peduncles up to 17 x 0.7 mm, the innermost often sessile; secondary bracteoles few, up to 3 x 0.3 mm, often with a few accessory umbels in bract axils. Flowers up to 10 per umbel; pedicels up to 4 x 0.4 mm, sepals 0.5 mm; petals 1.3 x 0.4 mm not inflexed, median oil tube red; staminods 0.75 mm long. Male inflorescences up to 320 mm long, stems up to 140 x 6 mm, reddish brown; head up to 180 x 50 mm, narrow-ovate in outline, compound umbels up to 26; lower bracts up to 100 mm long with sheath up to 30 x 8 mm, stipules up to 30 x 1 mm, lamina simple up to 74 x 4 mm, segments ascending. Lower compoudn umbels up to 50 mm long, peduncles up to 30 x 1 mm, primary bracteoles usually wanting, up to 9 simpel umbels with peduncles up to 10 x 0.5 mm, innermost umbels subsessile to sessile. Flowers up to 12 per umbel; pedicels up to 2 x 0.1 mm; sepals up to 0.3 mm long; petals 1.1 x 0.5 mm, not inflexed, median oil tube red; stamens 1.75 mm long. Mericarps dull, dark brown 6 x 1.5, each pair with 5/3, 5/4 or 4/3 ribs; lateral ribs 0.2 mm wide; styles up to 0.8 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Close to A. stannensis J.W.Dawson, a Stewart Island endemic found only on the Tin Range. From A. stannensis, A. trifoliolata differs by the petiole 1/2 as long as the lamina (< 1/3 in A. stannensis), the sheath joint evident rather than obscure, leaflet margin-ribs and midribs 0.5 mm rather than 1 mm wide, female pedicels slender not stout, female petals 3x longer than broad (rather than < 2 as long and broad), smaller mericarps (6 x 1.5 cf. 8 x 3 mm) and by the mericarp ribs 0.2 rather than 0.5 mm wide.



Flower Colours

Brown,Red / Pink


January - March

Propagation Technique



A very local, narrow-range endemic common in the small area it occupies. It may be threatened by browsing animals. A full survey an dmonitoring is needed to ascertain its exact status, ost of our current knowledge stems from surveys of this specie sknown habitats undertaken during 1978.

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 (1980).

References and further reading

Dawson, J. W. 1980: Aciphylla trifoliolata Petrie and A. stannensis sp. nov. New Zealand Journal of Botany 18: 115-120.

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