Celmisia macmahonii var. macmahonii


Celmisia: Apparently named after Kelmis, one of Idaean Dactyls, a group of skilled mythical beings associated with the Mother Goddess Rhea in Greek mythology. Kelmis, whose name means ‘casting’, was a blacksmith and childhood friend of Zeus, son of Rhea and later king of the gods. In Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, Kelmis is described as offending Zeus who turned him into adamant so he was as hard as a tempered blade

Common Name(s)

Macmahon's rock daisy, Mt Stokes daisy

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 - Threatened - Nationally Critical


2012 - OL
2009 - ST


Celmisia macmahonii Kirk var. macmahonii



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. South Island, Marlborough Sounds, confined to Mt Stokes and Macmahon.


Shaded turf on rock ledges and cliff faces within silver beech (Lophozonia menziesii) forest.


Perennial, silvery-green, creeping daisy forming compact cushions 10-50 cm diam. Leaves in dense rosettes, obovate-oblong, 20-35 x 6-8 mm, leathery, all parts invested in silvery appressed hairs, these drying yellow-brown to rust-red. Flowering stems 75-125 mm long, covered in floccose silvery hairs (these also drying yellow-brown to rust-red) and numerous, linear-subulate 20 mm long, more or less appressed bracts. Flower head 20-25 mm diam. Phyllaries (scales enclosing base of flower head) numerous, linear-subulate, 12 mm long, acute to acuminate, clad in long, silky silvery (drying yellow-brown) hairs. Ray florets white, numerous, 12-15 mm long, apex 3-toothed; disc-florets yellow, tubular, 5-7 mm long, flaring at toothed apex. Seeds (Achenes) compressed-cylindric, grooved, 2 mm long, ribs clad in ascending hairs. Pappus hairs white, 6 mm, barbellate.

Similar Taxa

A distinctive Celmisia not obviously allied to any other species, and distinguished from all other cushion-forming species by the leathery, stiff leaves, which are 6-8 mm wide and clad in silvery hairs which dry yellow brown or rust-red. appressed hairs.The Richmond Range endemic C. macmahonii var. hadfieldii, is very closely related, and differs mainly by its smaller overall dimensions, and sparsely hairy leaves which have apiculate apices.


November - February

Flower Colours



April - July

Propagation Technique

Can be grown from fresh seed and divisions of whole plants. Tricky and difficult to maintain in cultivation without specialist care and an alpine house. Should not be removed from the wild.


This species has been seriously threatened by feral goats which have from time to time spread into its only known habitat. Within the last decade goat control has reduced this threat but it remains an ongoing problem until such time as goats are completely eradicated from the region, or the habitat adequately fenced. This daisy has previously had a Nationally Critical threat assessment mainly because there were so few plants, occupying a very small area. Recent surveys and monitoring suggest that although uncommon the current population remains stable.

Chromosome No.

2n = 108

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Pappate cypselae are dispersed by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).




Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 January 2009. Description adapted from Allan (1961).

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. 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 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 31 May 2014