Sporadanthus traversii


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 bamboo rush,

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 - IE, OL
2009 - CD, ST, IE


Sporadanthus traversii (F.Muell.) F.Muell.



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

Rushes and Allied Plants


Lepyrodia traversii F.Muell.


Endemic. Chatham Island only


Found mainly on wet peat domes, also occurring in peaty dune hollows and on lake margins.


Slender, upright to sprawling dioecious perennial, 0 .6-1 .8(-2 .5) m tall, forming dense somewhat flaccid rafts. Rhizome 3-10 mm diameter, horizontal, sparingly branched, covered with tightly appressed, overlapping scales; scales 3-12 × 2-12 mm, broadly ovate to ± deltoid, chartaceous, dark brown, lustrous, apex rounded and mucronate. Roots 3-4 mm diameter, 50-120 mm long, grey, with few (if any) rootlets. Culms up to 2 m long, 1-5 mm diameter, gradually tapering toward distal end, firm, flexuose, slender, terete, smooth, dark green-brown to brown, often blotched black; branched in upper 2/3, branches numerous, firm, flexuose, scrambling, terete; basal 50-65 mm of culm slightly swollen with soft, spongy, light brown tissue. Culm base with 3-7 loosely appressed, overlapping scales; scales 8-25 × 10-12 mm, ovate to narrowly ovate, coriaceous, light brown to brown, nerves distinct, apex rounded and mucronate. Leaves along culm solitary, distant; lamina 15-30 x 6-11 mm, narrowly ovate, chartaceous, tan, brown to grey-brown, appressed to and sheathing culm, nerves distinct; margins entire to praemorse; apex rounded, with mucronate. Inflorescence a terminal panicle, often with cymose branching near base, 30-150(-200) mm long, dark dull brown, upright to spreading; male and female inflorescences sparse, not crowded; flowers subtended by 2 bractlets, subtended by 1 bract; inflorescence branchlets subtended by reduced leaves. Bracts 5.5-10.0 × 2.6-3.0 mm, ovate, narrowly ovate to lanceolate, light brown, membranous, apex acuminate, margins fimbriate. Bractlets 5.2-5.8 × 1.0-1.6 mm, lanceolate, membranous, light brown to yellow-brown, apex acuminate, margins entire. Flowers pedicellate to almost sessile. Tepals 6, in 2 whorls of 3, 4.0-6.0 × 1.0-1.2 mm, lanceolate, light brown, channelled, keeled, apex strongly acuminate. Male flowers with 3 stamens; filaments 1.6-3.0 mm long, anthers 1.8-2.3 mm long, cream, pollen yellow; pistil rudimentary. Female flowers with 1 pistil; style 1.0-1.5 mm long, pale orange, papillose on upper surface; ovary 0.6-0.7 × 0.3-0.4 mm, ellipsoid, brown to light brown, glossy; staminodes 3, each 1.5-1.6 mm long. Fruit 3.0-3.5 × 1.0-1.2 mm, oblong-ellipsoid, light brown to brown, surmounted by persistent short style; indehiscent. Seed 1.2–1.5 × 0 .9–1.0 mm, oblong to broadly ovate, dark brown.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from the North Island endemic Sporadanthus ferrugineus de Lange, Heenan et B.D.Clarkson by its restriction to Chatham Island; by the culms which are 1-5 mm rather than 10-15 diameter; tepals which are keeled and acuminate rather than not keeled and mucronate, and 4–6 mm rather than 2-3 mm long; by the fruit which is oblong-ellipsoid rather than ellipsoid, 3.0-3.5 mm rather than 1.0-1.5 mm long, and indehiscent; and by the seed which is 1.2–1.5 × 0.9-1.0 mm rather than 0.7–0.8 × 0.5–0.6 mm long.


October - February

Flower Colours



February - March

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild. Has been grown from seed but difficult to maintain.


It is threatened by burning, and to a lesser extent ploughing and sowing pasture species and also by prolonged cattle grazing in places. The weed species chilean guava (Ugni molinae) is a threat to some populations.

Chromosome No.

2n = 18

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family






Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 18 January 2005. Description adapted from de Lange et al. (1999).

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J.; Heenan, P.B.; Clarkson, B.D.; Clarkson, B.R. 1999: Taxonomy, ecology, and conservation of Sporadanthus (Restionaceae) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37: 413–431

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014