Ranunculus pilifera


Ranunculus: From the Latin 'rana' frog, meaning little frog and probably refers to the plants typical marshy habit where frogs abound
pilifera: Hair-bearing; having soft short hairs

Common Name(s)

None known

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining

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 - Declining
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - DP
2009 - DP


Ranunculus pilifera (F.J.F.Fisher) Heenan et P.J.Lockhart



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


Ranunculus haastii subsp. piliferus F.J.F.Fisher


Endemic. South Island. West Otago (Hector Mountains) and Southland (Eyre, Thomson and Takitimu Mountains, also East Dome).


High alpine occupying sparsely vegetated rock-slides and rock-fields derived from greywacke and non-foliated schist.


Robust, summer-green, rhizomatous herb up to 400 mm high, forming dense patches up to 1 m across. Rhizomes numerous, stout, fleshy, 10-12 mm diameter, regularly branched, covered with the remains of sheathing petiole bases and vascular strands, with numerous long fleshy roots 2-5 mm diameter; bud scales up to 40 mm long, clasping scape and petiole, abaxial surface moderately to densely covered with pilose hairs, adaxial surface sparsely hairy to glabriate near distal part and glabrous on proximal part. Lamina 60-75 x 75-130 mm, broadly reniform or broadly orbicular in outline, subcoriaceous, adaxial surface grey or grey-green with abaxial surface paler, both surfaces sparsely pilose hairy, glabrate (rarely glabrous), moderately hairy at insertion of petiole, proximal part distinctly veined, divided into 3 primary segments, occasionally further subdivided toward base; segments weakly dissected, with few, oblong to broadly oblong, overlapping lobes, further subdivided into smaller segments with oblong to broadly oblong lobes up to 5-30 mm deep, usually planar or slightly upwardly curved near margin; margin crenate, lobes usually wider than long or of similar width and length, teeth 2-9 mm long, broadly obovate, oblong to broadly oblong, apices obtuse, margin red; petiole 50-250 x 5-9 mm, fleshy, terete; sheath 15-40 mm long, moderately to densely covered with pilose hairs. Scape 80-400 x 5-14 mm, yellow-green or green, basally flushed red, terete with 1-6 flowers, each flower subtended by a leafy bract. Bracts similar to leaves, sessile, smaller toward distal flowers. Peduncles sparsely to moderately hairy, particularly near distal part. Flowers 40-50 mm diameter. Receptacle conical, 9.7-10.0 x 3/5-6.6 mm, often sparsely hairy and with a fringe of retrorse hairs at base, sometimes glabrous. Sepals 4-6, 20-22 x 8-11 mm, yellow-green to light green, oblong, oblong-elliptic or broadly elliptic, sometimes saccate, usually hairy on both surfaces, apex obtuse, often praemorse; nectary a simple pit. Stamens 110-139. glabrous; anthers 1.8-2.8 mm long, cream; filament 1.6-8.5 x 0.7-1.4 mm, translucent, distally tapered. Carpels 126-171 x 4.7-6.1 mm, glabrous or with a small tuft of hairs at base; stigma with minute papillae. Achenes 6.4-7.3 x 2.7-3.4 mm; body obovate, 1.8-2.5 x 1.3-1.7 mm, yellow-brown, surrounded by a wing 0.9-1.0 mm wide; beak curved to ventral side, laterally compressed, tapering toward a point at apex.

Similar Taxa

Closest to R. acraeus Heenan et P.J.Lockhart from which it is distinguished by its weakly dissected, coarsely crenate rather than finely crenate leaf and bract margins, hairy rather than glabrous peduncle; by the 4-5(-6) hairy rather than only abaxially hairy sepals, and allopatric distribution. From R. haastii Hook.f. it differs by its much less divided, pilose-hairy rather than glabrous leaves, and allopatric distribution.


November - January

Flower Colours



December - February

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild


An uncommon species common at sites within its small geographic area.

Chromosome No.

2n = 48

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available

Notes on taxonomy

Ranunculus piliferus is further distinguished from both R. haastii and R. acraeus by its different nrDNA ITS and cpDNA sequences (see Heenan et al. (2006)).


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (30 October 2008). Description by P.B. Heenan based on Heenan et al. (2006).

References and further reading

Heenan, P.B; Lockhart, P.J.; Kirkham, N.; McBreen, K.; Habell, D. 2006: Relationships in the alpine Ranunculus haastii (Ranunculaceae) complex and recognition of R. piliferus and R.acraeus from southern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 44(4): 425-441.

This page last updated on 14 May 2014