Centipeda aotearoana


Centipeda: From the Greek word for one hundred feet
aotearoana: From the Maori name for New Zealand (although originally the name only referred to the North Island). Derived from the Maori ao 'cloud, daytime, world' and tea 'white' and roa 'long', usually translated as 'land of the long white cloud', a reference to the appearance of the island from the sea.

Common Name(s)

New Zealand sneezewort

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 - Data Deficient


Centipeda aotearoana N.G.Walsh



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 - Composites




Endemic. New Zealand, Three kings, North and South Islands.


Open damp ground, lake, tarn and river margins, ephemeral wetlands, and drains.


Annual to short-lived perennial prostrate herb forming circular patches 10-30 cm diameter. Stems trailing, prostrate, sparsely to moderately covered in cottony-hairs. Leaves yellow-green, obovate to spathulate in outline, 4-8(-12) mm long, 1.5-4 mm wide, margins with 1-3 acute to blunt teeth, rarely entire. Inflorescence a single leaf-opposed, unstalked hemispherical, capitula (daisy-like structure), domed, 3-4(-7) mm diameter, female (outer) florets c.60-120 in 3-5 rows, bisexual flowers 8-16. Fruiting heads persistent. Cypselas (seeds) brown, club-shaped or narrowly cylindrical, 1.2-1.7 mm long, 4-angled with prominent ribs at each of the angles, smooth or finely scabrid in lower portion, glandular hairs sparse or absent, non-glandular hairs spreading or subappressed, confined to ribs.

Similar Taxa

Most likely to be confused with C. elatinoides (Less.) Benth. et Hook., and C. cunninghamii (DC.) A.Braun et Asch. C. elatinoides differs by its hairless or slightly cob-webbed branchlets, shortly stalked capitula, and narrowly obovate cypselas with rounded apices. Centipeda cunninghamii differs by its erect growth form, leaves longer than 10 mm, and by possessing 20 or more bisexual florets in the capitula. C. aotearoana can be immediately distinguished by its hemispherical fruiting capitula.


Herbarium specimens and field notes indicate it may flower from mid summer through to autumn but plants may continue flowering into winter.


Herbarium specimens suggest that fruit is produced in late summer to autumn.

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from rooted pieces and fresh seed.


Centipeda aotearoana was described by Australian Botanist Neville Walsh in 2001. At the time of its description the comment was made that this species does not appear to be rare. Current indications are that C. aotearoana is probably a naturally sparse, opportunistic species

Chromosome No.

2n = 20

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Cypselae dispersed by wind, attachment and granivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Notes on taxonomy

Collectively the four species now recognised from New Zealand were all regarded by Allan (1961) as C. orbicularis, a later synonym of C. minima. Webb et al. (1988) were the first to recognise C. minima and C. cunninghamii as present in New Zealand.


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P. J. de Lange 5 May 2005. Description adapted from Walsh (2001).

References and further reading

Deverson, T, Kennedy G. 2005. The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary.  Oxford University Press: Victoria.

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

Walsh, N.G. 2001: A revision of Centipeda (Asteraceae). Muelleria 15: 33-64.

Webb, C.J.; Sykes, W.R.; Garnock-Jones, P.J. (eds). Flora of New Zealand. Vol. IV. Christchurch, Botany Division, D.S.I.R. 1365 p.

This page last updated on 2 Jun 2014