Bulbinella talbotii


Bulbinella: little bulb
talbotii: Named for Harry Talbot (1898-1982), a plant collector

Common Name(s)

Talbots onion, Gouland Downs onion

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, Sp
2009 - DP, OL


Bulbinella talbotii L.B.Moore



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

Monocotyledonous Herbs




Endemic. South Island, north-west Nelson, Gouland Downs


Montane in boggy ground and fringing pools of water within open shrubland.


Stout, fleshy, bisexual plant, scarcely rising above ground; leaves widely spreading, up to 100-400 mm. Leaves 3-7 mm wide, more or less horizontally spreading. Peduncle very short, scarcely evident from with leaf-sheaths, rarely exceeding raceme-length. Raceme at flowering 10-25 × 15 mm, elongating little at fruit; fruit densely crowded; bracts about equal in length to pedicels, with broad, pale, membranous, sheathing at base, covering young buds but in fruit almost hidden; pedicels short, widely spreading, scarcely visible. Flowers deep yellow to sulphur yellow except for the abaxial nerve of each tepal green; perianth 7-11 mm diameter, shrivelled and tangled at base of ripe capsules. Stamens 6, widely spreading. Ovary and capsule stipitate, the capsule globose above the gynophore, 3.5-6.5 mm diameter. Seeds 3.5 mm long, brown, smooth, rounded without wings

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from all but B. modesta L.B.Moore by its narrow leaves (up to 10 mm wide), shortly pedunculate racemes which are virtually hidden amongst the foliage, and by the globose capsules, and seeds which are a little longer than wide, brown and without wings. From B. modesta it differs by the peduncles which are mostly hidden by the leaf sheaths, with the visible portion < raceme, and by the flowers which are densely crowded rather than openly and rather laxly arranged.


December - January

Flower Colours



December - February

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild. Has been cultivated with limited success in the more southerly parts of the country.


Not Threatened. However listed because it is a geographically restricted, narrow-range endemic. It is not very well known and it may be threatened to some extent by pigs and other browsing animals.

Chromosome No.

2n = 14

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Description modified from Moore and Edgar (1970)

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington. 354pp.

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 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 25 May 2014