Carmichaelia juncea


Carmichaelia: after Carmichael, a botanist
juncea: rush-like

Common Name(s)

none known

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable

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 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Endangered


2012 - CD, EF, RF
2009 - CD, EF, RF


Carmichaelia juncea Hook.f.



Brief Description

Rare sprawling leafless brownish shrub inhabiting gravel flats. Twigs flattened, 1.5-2mm wide, grooved, lying flat along ground. Flowers small, pea-like, white or with purple streaks. Fruit a very small dry pod containing up to 6 very small mottled seeds and which does not split open.

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 Trees & Shrubs


Carmichaelia prona Kirk, C. fieldii Cockayne, C. lacustris G.Simpson, C. nigrans G.Simpson var. nigrans, C. nigrans var. tenuis G.Simpson, C. floribunda G.Simpson


Endemic. North and South Islands. In the N. Island it was collected once in the 1840s from the Ngaruroro River, and has not been seen since. In the S. Island it was formerly known from North West Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, Westland, Otago and Southland. It is now only known from a small area near Puponga in North West Nelson, and in scattered sites from Franz-Josef Glacier south to near Haast.


Occurs on stable but unconsolidated river bed gravels and stony, sandy and grassy edges of lakes, where competition from other plants is limited, or in coastal shrubland and turfland on weathered conglomerate rock.


Prostrate, sprawling, virtually leafless, shrub forming flat dull grey-green, yellow-green to very dark green mats up to 0.2 x 1.5 m. Branches up to 0.8 m, completely flat, rarely ascending. Cladodes linear, striate, compressed, green, grey-green, yellow-green to light brown, sparsely hairy, prostrate, 55-160 x 1.5-2 mm; apex subacute. Leaf nodes 8-15. Leaves 1-3(-5)-foliolate, somewhat fleshy; upper surface mottled brown, brown-green or green; undersides green; apex emarginated or retuse, base cuneate to obtuse, lamina margin sparsely hairy or glabrous. Terminal leaflet 5.5-14 x 2-4 mm, oblong, lateral leaflets 3-5 x 1-2.5 mm, obovate. Leaves on cladodes reduced to a triangular scale < 1 mm long. Stipules free, 0.5-0.8 x 1mm, broad-triangular, initially herbaceous, drying membraceous. Inflorescence a raceme, 1(-2) per node, bearing 4-6 flowers. Peduncle 2-4 mm long, hairy, green. Pedicel 1-1.5 mm, hairy, pale green flushed with red. Calyx 1.5 x 1.25 mm, campanulate, green, glabrous. Calyx lobes 0.1 mm long, broad-triangular to triangular. Bud pale green. Standard 4-5 x 4-5 mm, obovate, erect; distal and central portions of undersides purple, margins and proximal areas white or purple-veined,; distal and central areas of upper surface white, proximal portion green or purple-veined; apex retuse, margins recurved; claw, c.1.5 mm long, pale green. Wings 3.5-4 x 1-1.5 mm, oblong, longer than keel, both surfaces white, sometimes purple-veined; claw 1-1.5 mm long, pale green. Keel 4.5 x 1.5 mm; distal area purple, white or purple-veined in central and proximal areas; claw 1.5-2 mm, pale green. Stamens 3.5 mm long. Pistil of similar length. Style with a ring of hairs below stigma. Pod, persistent, 3.5-6 x 1.75-2 mm, oblong, valves inflated, yellow-grey, dark grey, dark grey-black, usually indehiscent; beak 0.25-0.5 mm, slightly curved, stout, pungent. Seeds (1-)4(-6) per pod, 1.25-1.5 x 1 mm, oblong-reniform, brick red, orange, olive green, or green-yellow, usually mottled with black.

Similar Taxa

Carmichaelia juncea is somewhat similar to Carmichaelia compacta Petrie and C. curta Petrie but is easily distinguished from these species by its sprawling, prostrate growth habit and rather slender, wiry branchlets.


October - January

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


November - March

Propagation Technique

Easy from seed or semi-hardwood cuttings. Interesting plant for rock-gardens, and tolerant of exposed, dry conditions. Prefers free-draining soils, in full sun. An excellent pot plant. Like many S. Island carmichaelia, it does better in drier, less humid climates.


An apparently biologically sparse species, it is now extinct over much of its former range. Now presumed extinct in the N. Island. Its near loss from S. Island can be attributed to its natural rarity, thereby increasing its vulnerablity to over collection. The flat creeping habit and requirement for open ground, has meant that it is vulnerable to weed competition. It is browsed by rabbits, possums and other livestock.

Chromosome No.

2n = 32

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seeds are possibly dispersed by wind and granivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).



Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 30 November 2005. Description modified from Heenan (1995)

References and further reading

Heenan, P. B. 1995: A taxonomic revision of Carmichaelia (Fabaceae - Galegeae) in New Zealand (Part I). New Zealand Journal of Botany 33: 455–75.

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 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 31 May 2014