Chionochloa antarctica


Chionochloa: snow grass
antarctica: Antarctic

Common Name(s)

Snow Tussock

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


Chionochloa antarctica (Hook.f.) Zotov



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



Bromus antarcticus Hook.f.; Danthonia antarctica (Hook.f.) Hook.f.; Danthonia flavescens var. hookeri Zotov


Endemic. New Zealand: Auckland and Campbell Islands.


Dominant of tussock grassland across islands. Also in cushion bogs


Tall, slender, often peat-stained, pale tussock with pungent leaves often spirally twisting above and deciduous. Leaf-sheath to 200 mm, dark above, pale shining below, persistent, glabrous though often with many very short hairs between ribs. Ligule to 2 mm. Leaf-blades to 30 0 × 6 mm, flat or U-shaped, disarticulating at ligule, abaxially many glabrous ribs, adaxially below with interlocking hairs from near margins, abundant papillae above; margin glabrous. Culm to 1 m, internodes glabrous. Inflorescence to 150 mm, congested, ± triangular, glabrous except for long hairs at branch axils and below spikelets. Spikelets of up to 7 lightly purpled florets. Glumes sometimes purpled, acute or shortly awned, < adjacent lemma lobes; lower to 12 mm, 1-nerved or shortly 3-nerved, upper to 15 mm, 3-5-nerved, margin consistently long hairy below otherwise glabrous. Lemma to 8 mm; hairs dense at margin and aside central nerve, sometimes in other internerves but then fewer, ± reaching sinus; lateral lobes to 7 mm including awn to 3 mm or long triangular-acute; central awn to 20 mm reflexed from flat column up to 3 mm. Palea to 10 mm. Callus to 1 mm, hairs to 3 mm. Rachilla to 1 mm. Lodicules to 0.75 mm. Anthers to 3.5 mm. Ovary to 0.75 mm; stigma-styles to 4 mm. Seed to 2.5 mm


October - December


November - March

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from rooted pieces and fresh seed. Should be planted in a permanently moist soil, ideally in a cool or partially shaded situation. Dislikes humidity and will not tolerate drought.


Not Threatened. Widespread and common within its island habitats. Listed only because by world standards it is a naturally uncommon plant biologically limited only by the extent of area it can occupy

Chromosome No.

2n = 42

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Florets are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available


Description modified from Edgar and Connor (2000).

References and further reading

Edgar, E.; Connor, H.E. 2000: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. V. Grasses. Christchurch, Manaaki Whenua Press. 650 pp.

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 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 2 Jun 2014