New Pimelea Recognised in Revision

Dr Colin Burrows of Christchurch, New Zealand has always had an interest in Pimelea, and when he retired from lecturing at the University of Canterbury in the mid 1980s, he announced that he was now going to complete what he’d started as a Master’s thesis in the 1950s. That is a comprehensive revision of New Zealand Pimelea.

His first offering on the subject, a paper just published in the June issue of the New Zealand Journal of Botany (Burrows 2008) deals with seven glabrous (hairless) leaved species. Burrows (2008) maintains Pimelea gnidia, P. longifolia, P. traversii and P. poppelwellii. He relegates the little known P. crosby-smithiana into synonymy with the widespread and rather variable P. gnidia. Two new subspecies are recognised in P. traversii, a north-eastern Marlborough endemic of limestone rocks, subsp. boreus, and a southerly outlier of ultramafic rock substrates in the Livingstone Range, subsp. exedra. Burrows also names two new species, the highly threatened – and very close to extinct – P. actea, which was long known as P. “Turakina” in threatened plant listings, and another Range Restricted species, P. telura (long known as P. “Three Kings”), confined says Burrow’s to the larger of the Three Kings Islands: Manawa Tawhi (Great Island), South-West and West Islands. However, it is also present on the smaller North East Island and Arbutus Rock in the Princes Group (P. J. de Lange pers. comm.). Burrows provides conservation assessments for all of the taxa treated, and suggests that many North Island populations of P. longifolia are hybrid swarms between P. gnidia and P. longifolia.

Fact Sheets for the new taxa are now available on the NZPCN website.


Burrows, C.J. 2008: Genus Pimelea (Thymelaeaceae) in New Zealand 1. The taxonomic treatment of seven endemic, glabrous-leaved species. New Zealand Journal of Botany 45: 127-176.