Chionochloa bromoides


Chionochloa: snow grass

Common Name(s)

Coastal Tussock, Seabird 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, Sp


Chionochloa bromoides (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



Danthonia bromides Hook.f.


Endemic. North Island where virtually confined to northern offshore islands and easterly headlands from the Bay of Islands south to the Poor Knights, Chickens and Mokohinau Islands. One westerly outlier occurs at Maunganui Bluff.


Coastal on cliff faces, bluffs, rock stacks, and in petrel scrub. Well established plants often have their bases heavily burrowed by sea birds such as diving petrels.


Gynodioecious, stout, pendent often sprawling, bright green tussock with persistent leaves and sheaths. Leaf-sheath to 150 mm, shining yellow, keeled, persistent and entire, becoming fibrous, margin abundantly long hairy below, apical tuft of hairs to 4 mm; adaxially with many minute interrib hairs. Ligule to 1.5 mm. Leaf-blade to 500 × 10 mm, flat or shallowly U-shaped, smooth, persistent, adaxially glabrous except for long hairs on margin below and some short or long hairs, sometimes dense, at base. Culm to 700 mm, internodes glabrous. Inflorescence to 200 mm, very congested; rachis and main branches glabrous but with some long hairs at axils; pedicels short and densely hairy. Spikelets of up to 6 florets. Glumes acute or slightly awned, < adjacent lemma lobes, many prickle-teeth abaxially and a few adaxially; lower to 12 mm, 1-3-nerved, upper to 16 mm, 5-nerved. Lemma to 9 mm; hairs dense at margin and in all internerves though sometimes absent from all or some, less than or equal to sinus, prickle-teeth abundant abaxially and adaxially on lobes and margins; lateral lobes to 5 mm including awn to 3 mm or acute, rarely dividing from awn at sinus; central awn to 22 mm from indistinct straight column. Palea to 10 mm, prickle-teeth abaxially and on flanks. Callus to 1.5 mm, hairs to 5 mm. Rachilla to 0.5 mm. Lodicules to 1.75 mm. Anthers to 5.5 mm in male-fertile flowers, up to 3 mm in male-sterile flowers. Male-fertile flowers with stigma-styles to 3.5 mm, ovary to 1.5 mm, and male-sterile flowers to 5 mm, ovary 1.5 mm. Seeds to 3.5 mm.


September - December


November - March

Propagation Technique

Can be difficult. Best grown from fresh seed. Plants should be planted where they are to grow as they resent much root disturbance. Best in full sun, in a freely draining soil or on a stone wall. Dislikes humidity.


Not Threatened. Listed because it is a naturally uncommon, regional endemic.

Chromosome No.

2n = 42

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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


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 6 Dec 2014