Atriplex hollowayi


Atriplex: From an ancient Latin name whose derivation is uncertain, but a possible explanation is the name comes from the Greek a- 'without' and traphein 'nourishment' because many of these species grow in arid desert soils

Common Name(s)

Holloway's crystalwort

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Critical

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 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Critical


2012 - CD, EF, OL
2009 - CD, EF, Inc, OL


Atriplex hollowayi de Lange et D.A.Norton



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. North Island, formerly recorded from Te Paki south and east to Hicks Bay, including Mayor (Tuhua) Island, with a disjunct southerly gathering made by Thomas Kirk in the 1800s from Lyall Bay, Wellington. Now known naturally only from Waikuku and Whareana Beaches, on the eastern side of Te Paki.


Sandy Beaches, at or just above the high water tide mark. Usually found at or in the vicinity of a fresh water stream draining across a beach


Annual, succulent, densely branched herb, forming circular 0.8 x 1.2 m mounds on sandy beaches just above mean annual high water tide mark. All exposed parts copiously covered in fine, sugar-like, deciduous, spherical, glistening, ball-like papillae. Branches 10-50 mm long, succulent, creamy yellow, rooting at nodes. Stems pale yellow. Leaves 2-12 x 1-6 mm, grey-green, margins distinctly but irregularly toothed. Plants monoecious. Male flowers axillary, in clusters of 2-4, rarely single; perianth lobes 5, green or pale-cream, 0.8-1 mm, elliptic-oblong; stamens 5, anthers yellow; female flowers minute, 0.8-1.2 mm, shortly stipitate, solitary or paired in leaf-axils. Perianth absent, bracteolea fused for ½ length, lips triangular, obtuse, laciniate, fimbriate to entire; styles 2 not connate; stigmas 2, white, 0.7-1 mm. Fruits 2.8-4.0 x 1.5-2.3, straw-yellow, urceolate, papery. Seed circular, convexm 0.9-2 mm diam., chestnut-brown maturing purple-brown.

Similar Taxa

Atriplex billardierei (Moq.) Hook.f., which can be distinguished by its smooth margined leaves, fused, paired stigma, larger fruits and seeds. A. billardierei appears to have never grown in A. hollowayi habitats, and was historically known in New Zealand only from Southland, Stewart Island and Chatham Island sand beaches. Currently it is only known in New Zealand from the Chatham Islands, where it is seasonally abundant.


October - February

Flower Colours



December - April

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from seed that has first been soaked in fresh water. Can be grown from softwood cuttings early in growing season.


At risk from trampling and/or browsing by livestock and palatable to most herbivores. There is some historical evidence suggesting that some of this species decline was caused by botanists collecting whole plants - which to an annual species can be a serious threat. Holloways Crystalwort is also threatened by competition from other introduced strand plants, summer cyclonic storms, human beach users - especially from the ever increasing use of All Terrain Vehicles on sand beaches.

Chromosome No.

2n = 18

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commericially available.

Cultural Use/Importance

Considerable conservation effort has been undertaken by the Northland Conservancy of the Department of Conservation following a recovery plan written specifically for this species in 2001. As a result Holloways crystalwort has been successfully managed back from the brink of extinction. Plans are underway to reintroduce it to several more southerly locations that fit within its historic range.


Description based on de Lange et al. (20000).

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J. ; Norton, D.A.; Crowcroft, G.M. 2000: Taxonomy, ecology, and conservation of Atriplex billardierei and A. hollowayi sp. nopv. (Chenopodiaceae) in Australasia. New Zealand Journal of Botany 38: 551-567.

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 10 May 2014