Celmisia rigida


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
rigida: rigid

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 - IE, Sp


Celmisia rigida (Kirk) Cockayne



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


Celmisia verbascifolia ssp. rigida (Kirk) D.R.Given; Celmisia petiolata var. rigida Kirk


Endemic. Stewart Island: Lords River; Masons Bay area including Ernest Islands; Ruggedy Mountains; Long Island; Whenuakou (Codfish Island).


Mostly coastal. On steep slopes and cliffs on ledges, in crevices and under Olearia scrub. Occasionally recorded from coastal river banks


Woody-based herb with short branchlets arising from a multicipital stock, usually just below the soil surface; living leaves in few to numerous rosettes at the tips of branchlets; the whole plant forming a loose mat of a few to numerous rosettes. Leaf sheaths densely imbricate and compacted into a pseudostem. Leaf lamina up to 60-220 × 12-70 mm, coriaceous though often flaccidly so, leaves usually at first erect, becoming decumbent with age, elliptic, oblong, or occasionally obovate; upper surface sometimes obscurely sulcate, concolorous, pale to mid-green glabrate above when mature except for a marginal rim of brown hairs; lower surface lustrous, finely and densely covered in cream-coloured tomentum, veins distinct; tip acute; margins entire, flat, with a very narrow rim of hairs slightly darker than those of lower surface; base obliquely cuneate; petiole usually < ¼ length of lamina, deep purple, clad in floccose, whitish hairs. Scape purple, clad in whitish tomentum, up to 400 mm long; bracts numerous, erect, linear sometimes leaf-like; monocephalous. Capitula up to 60 mm diameter. Involucral bracts tomentosa, indument buff-coloured, glabrate, in several series, linear-subulate, erect, glabrate to silky tomentose. Ray florets 70-80, ligulate, the limb linear-lanceolate, white. Disc florets c. 130-170, funneliform, yellow; tube with eglandular, biseriate hairs. Achene fusiform-cylindric, ribbed, 4-5 mm long, glabrous or with scattered bifid hairs. Pappus unequal, c.6 mm long, of c. 20-30 bristles.

Similar Taxa

Celmisia rigida differs from C. verbascifolia by the rigidly coriaceous rather than flaccid coriaceous to submembranous leaves; leaf margins which are fringed in dark brownish rather than buff-coloured hairs, by the distinct rather than inconspicuous leaf veins and by the leaf undersides which are finely covered in appressed, cream-coloured lustrous hairs. (Given 1984) treated Celmisia rigida as a subspecies of C. verbascifolia but that view has not been widely adopted by New Zealand botanists who prefer to maintain C. rigida as a distinct species.


November - January

Flower Colours



December - March

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed but difficult to maintain. Dislikes high humidity. Best in a shaded site planted in a moist free draining soil.


A Naturally Uncommon, narrow range endemic that is abundant within its few known locations. Some Stewart Island populations may be affected by white-tailed deer bu tmost seem secure. It is abundant on Whenuahou (Codfish Island).

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not Commercially available.


Description based on Given (1984)

References and further reading

Given, D.R. 1984: A taxonomic revision of Celmisia subgenus Pelliculatae section Petiolatae (Compositae—Astereae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 22: 139-158.

This page last updated on 25 Sep 2013