Aciphylla traversii


Aciphylla: From the Latin acicula 'needle' and the Greek phyllum 'leaf', meaning needle-leaf.
traversii: Named after William Thomas Locke Travers (1819-1903) who was an Irish lawyer, magistrate, politician, explorer, naturalist, photographer. He lived in New Zealand from 1849 and was a fellow of the Linnean Society.

Common Name(s)

Chatham Island speargrass, taramea

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Recovering

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 - Recovering
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Endangered


2012 - CD, EF, IE, RR
2009 - CD, EF, IE, RR


Aciphylla traversii (F.Muell.) Hook.f.



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 other than Composites


Gingidium traversii F. Muell.


Endemic to the Chatham Islands where it is known from Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Reported from Mangere Island in 1968 but not seen there since.


Found in open sites on sandy/peaty soils. Probably naturally occurs mainly in bog margins, canopy gaps, lake edges, streamside rock ledges and sites disturbed by seals, seabird activity, storm damage or natural fires. Now mainly associated with moorland created by burning and extensive farming of land formerly clad in tarahinau forest, heath and bamboo rush.


This is a stout tussock-like herb up to about 80 cm tall. Leaves are stiff and divided into long narrow sharp-pointed segments. Flower stems up to 1 m tall. Flowers small, in rounded or open clusters and occur from November to February. Male and female flowers on separate plants. Seed clusters (on female plants) are broad and brown when ripe and occur from January to June. The brown seeds are winged. It differs from Aciphylla dieffenbachii in possessing dark green semi-rigid less divided leaves, brown seeds and by its distinctive ecology.


November - February

Flower Colours



January - June


Domestic stock and feral mammals are prime threats. Rodents probably eat seeds and seedlings; possums probably eat flowers and seedlings. Over-topping by regenerating shrubs and trees presents a threat of shading out the speargrass.

Chromosome No.

2n = 22

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Winged schizocarps are dispersed primarily by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Can be purchased from Oratia Native Plant Nurseries (info@oratianatives.co.nz).


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 July 2004. Description adapted from Walls et al (2002).

References and further reading

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.

Walls, G.; Baird, A.; de Lange, P.J.; Sawyer, J.W.D. 2002: Threatened plants of the Chatham Islands. Wellington, Department of Conservation.

This page last updated on 12 Nov 2014