Carmichaelia appressa


Carmichaelia: after Carmichael, a botanist

Common Name(s)

Prostrate broom

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 - RF, RR
2009 - OL


Carmichaelia appressa G.Simpson



Brief Description

Sprawling yellow-green mounds of apparently leafless branches inhabiting central Canterbury beaches. Branches yellow-green, oval in cross section, grooved. Leaves rarely present at tips of branches or in shaded parts of plant, consisting of three leaflets. Flowers pea-like, small, purple streaked, in small clusters. Fruit in a dry pod.

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 Trees & Shrubs


None (first described in 1945)


Endemic. New Zealand: South Island (Kaitorete Spit and probably also the mouth of Rakaia River)


A species of gravelly sandy loam, stabilised sand dunes, and ridges of sand developed along the Kaitorete Spit


Prostrate, occasionally decumbent, densely branched shrub, 0.25-0.40 × 1.00-2.00 m. Branches 0.3-1.0 m long and up to 30 mm diameter, prostrate or weakly decumbent. Cladodes 50-150 × 1-2 mm, prostrate, sometimes weakly ascending, linear, striate, compressed, weakly plano-convex, light green to green-yellow, sparsely hairy to glabrous, apex subacute or obtuse; leaf nodes 7-11. Leaves 1-3-foliolate, present on seedlings and rarely on adults, terminal leaflet larger; lamina 2.0-5.0 × 1.02.5 mm, obovate, fleshy, green, upper and lower surfaces sparsely to moderately hairy, apex emarginate, base cuneate; petiole 1-11 mm long, sparsely hairy, green; petiolule < 0.25 mm long, glabrous, light green. Leaves on cladodes reduced to scales, < 0.5 mm long, broad-triangular, glabrous, apex subacute, margin hairy. Stipules c.0.5 × c.0.5 mm, free, triangular, upper surface glabrous, lower surface glabrous or with a few scattered hairs and becoming glabrous with age, apex acute, margin hairy. Inflorescence a raceme, 1-3 per node, each with 2-13 flowers. Peduncle 1.0-8.5 mm long, glabrous or sparsely hairy, green, occasionally flushed red. Bracts < c.0.5 mm long, triangular, glabrous, apex acute, margin hairy. Pedicel 2-4 mm long, glabrous to sparsely hairy, pale green. Bracteoles on upper part of pedicel, lanceolate, glabrous, green, occasionally flushed red, apex subacute, margin hairy. Calyx c.1.5 × 1.8-2.0 mm, campanulate, green, outer surface glabrous to sparsely hairy. Calyx lobes 0.2-0.3 mm long, triangular, inner surface glabrous, appressed to corolla, apex acute. Bud green or white. Standard 4-5 × 5-6 mm, obovate, patent, positioned in central part of keel, keeled, apex refuse; inner surface with a purple blotch, white margins, purple-veined; outer surface white, green at base, purple-veined; claw c.1 mm long, pale green. Wings 4.00-5.00 × 1.75-2.00 mm, oblong, longer than keel, apex obtuse; inner and outer surfaces white, and purple-veined; auricle rounded, white; claw c.1.5 mm long, pale green. Keel 3.5-4.0 × c.1.5 mm, apex obtuse; distal part of inner and outer surfaces purple, proximal part white; auricle < 0.5 mm long, rounded, pale green; claw c.1.5 mm long, pale green. Stamens 3.00-3.75 mm long; dorsal filaments connate for 7/8 of length, outer stamens free for c.0.5 mm. Pistil c.4 mm long, exserted beyond the stamens, glabrous; ovules 5-8. Pods 8-12 × 3-4 mm, elliptic to broad-oblong, laterally compressed, spreading, brown or grey, valves dehiscent; beak c.1 mm long, in a central apical position, stout, pungent-tipped. Seeds c.2.0 × c.1.5 mm, reniform, 2-per pod, dark purple or black, usually persistent on replum.

Similar Taxa

Carmichaelia appressa is distinguished from C. australis R.Br. (at least on Kaitorete Spit) by its prostrate growth habit and yellow-green cladodes.


October - January

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


December - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from seed and hardwood cuttings.


The habitat of C. appressa is very susceptible to damage by off-road motorbikes and 4WD vehicles and excavation for sand. A large part of its habitat is protected within a scientific reserve. For the time being the species seems secure.

Chromosome No.

2n = 32

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seeds are possibly dispersed by wind and granivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).




Description from Heenan (1996)

References and further reading

Heenan, P.B. 1996: A taxonomic revision of Carmichaelia (Fabaceae - Galegeae) in New Zealand (part II). New Zealand Journal of Botany 34: 157-177

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 6 Dec 2014