Lepilaena bilocularis

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 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Sparse


2012 - RR, SO, Sp
2009 - SO


Lepilaena bilocularis Kirk



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

Monocotyledonous Herbs




Indigenous. Known from North, South and Chatham Islands. Also present in Australia.


Aquatic herb of lakes, brackish water, or slow-flowing rivers. Usually found in shallow fresh water habitats not far from the coast.


Annual, summer-green, submerged, rhizomatous herb forming small patches. Stems up to 20 cm long, thread-like, usually unbranched. Internodes 1-4 cm long. Leaves regularly alternate, leaf-base at first sheathing stem, to 4 mm long, becoming fibrous with age, leaf-blade 2.5-3.5 x 1 mm, entire, 1- or 3- nerved, with nerves extending to the squarely truncate tip. Flower enclosed within leaf-bases. Both sexes in separate positions on the same plant. Male on small 5 mm stalk (pedicel), stamen solitary, anther 2 x 0.6 mm, sickle-shaped, with 2 pollen sacs. Female shortly stalked (pedicellate), perianth-segments narrow-oblong, lacerate, 1.5 x 0.5 mm. Carpels 3(-4), style narrower than ovary, stigma funnel-shaped with long feathery margins. Seed (achene) 1.5-2 x 0.5 mm., asymmetrically oblong, yellow, smooth, narrowing above to style remnant c. 1 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Lepilaena is most likely to be confused with Zannichellia palustris which is a superficially similar indigenous aquatic herb of much the same habitats. This from Lepilaena by its much-branched floating habit, in having leaves arranged in false whorls of 3-4, and by the flowers arranged together within the sheathing bracts. Submerged plants of Schoenus maschalinus (Cyperaceae) are also superficially similar, but these are much branched, and will not flower when submerged.


Flowers can be present throughout the year


Fruit can be present throughout the year

Propagation Technique

No information available.


As the result of field surveys it is clear that Lepilaena bilocularis is biologically sparse in its distribution. In the northern part of its range it seems to have been especially uncommon and there more than anywhere else is where it has undergone some range contraction. However that loss is insufficient to justify its listing as Threatened.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Achenes are dispersed by water (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2007: Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970).

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.

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

This page last updated on 3 Jun 2015