Celmisia insignis


Celmisia: Apparently named after Kelmis, one of Idaean Dactyls, a group of skilled mythical beings associated with the Mother Goddess Rhea in Greek mythology. Kelmis, whose name means ‘casting’, was a blacksmith and childhood friend of Zeus, son of Rhea and later king of the gods. In Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, Kelmis is described as offending Zeus who turned him into adamant so he was as hard as a tempered blade
insignis: outstanding or remarkable

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 - RR
2009 - ST


Celmisia insignis W.Martin



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 - Composites




Endemic. South Island: drainage basins of the Waihopai, Spray, Avon, Omaka, and Blairich Rivers between the Wairau and Awatere Rivers in Marlborough.


Lowland to alpine, on rock faces and bluffs near streams or around rock outcrops in tussock grassland.


Woody-based herb with branchlets arising from a multicipital stock at ground level; living leaves in rosettes at the tips of branchlets, the whole plant forming small patches of several rosettes; leaf sheaths densely imbricate and compacted, forming a pseudo-stem. Leaf lamina 120-270 x 5-7 mm, coriaceous, erect or slightly curved, linear; upper surface with a prominent medial groove, somewhat sulcate in some plants, concolorous, dull green with an conspicuous silver-leaden pellicle; lower surface densely covered in glistening appressed tomentum, midrib prominent; tip acute; margins entire, revolute. Petiole short. Sheath up to 80 x 15 mm, greenish or slightly yellowish, clad in floccose white hairs. Scape clad in appressed white hairs, stout, up to 300 mm long; bracts numerous, erect, up to 4 cm long, margins revolute; monocephalous. Ray florets c.70, ligulate, the limb linear-spathulate, white. Disc florets 100-150, 7-8 mm long, funneliform, yellow, tube with long eglandular hairs. Achene more or less fusiform, grooved, 5-9 mm long, glabrous or rarely with a few short appressed bifid hairs. Pappus unequal, 6-9 mm long, of 30-40 barbellate bristles.

Similar Taxa

Allied to Celmisia dubia, C. monroi, C. morganii and C. semicordata, from which species it differs by very narrow (5-7 mm wide cf. > 20 mm wide) longitudinally recurved leaves.


October - March

Flower Colours



November - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed. Prefers a free draining, moist soil, and once established is extremely tolerant of drought. Dislikes humidity.


A naturally uncommon species that does not appear to be actively threatened. However, its preference for lower altitude habitats within an region that is becoming ever increasingly popular for growing grape vines means that some populations are now potentially at risk through land conversion. Some large populations occur at higher altitudes where this species is less likely to be threatened in the long-term.

Chromosome No.

2n = 108

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Description from Given (1980)

References and further reading

Given, D.R. 1980: A taxonomic revision of Celmisia coriacea (Forst.f.) Hook.f. and its immediate allies (Astereae-Compositae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 18: 127-140.

This page last updated on 25 Sep 2013