fierce speargrass, taramea
Vascular – Native
Herbs - Dicotyledons other than Composites
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.
2n = 22
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2012 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. South Island, Nelson through Marlborough to North Canterbury.
Low Alpine (600-1400 m.a.s.l.), often prominent in subalpine scrub, mixed snow tussock-scrub, grassland and herbfield.
A massive bright green plant growing up to 1 m tall, as single clumps or in small groups. Leaves subflabellately pinnate, 2-4 pairs, up to approximately 40 cm long. Sheaths thick, coriaceous, about 70 x 30 mm, tapering to about 20 mm. Stipules rigid, approximately 150 x 40 mm, tapering to rigid pungent tips. Petioles slightly concavo-convex, striate, approximately 100-150 x 15 mm, tapering to about 10 mm; margins cartilaginous, smooth. Lowest internodes up to approximately 30 mm long. Primary pinnae straight or nearly so, erect, lowest approximately 150 x 10-15 mm, with base about 7 mm wide, expanding to greatest width at the middle, then tapering to pungent point; midrib usually rather obscure, margins serrulate-crenulate. Flowering stems very stout, grooved; male plants with inflorescence approximately 75 cm long; bracts verticillate, lower whorl empty, about 150 mm distant from next whorl. Sheath submembranous, ribbed, approximately 90 x 10 mm, gradually tapering to about 6 mm. Stipules unequal, stiff, up to approximately 70 x 2 mm, pungent; central leaflet up to approximately 200 x 4 mm. Upper bracts rigid; sheaths very coriaceous, approximately 30 x 5 mm; stipules usually absent; leaflet rigid, approximately 50 x 3 mm, midrib evident. Umbels numerous, on stout striate peduncles up to approximately 80-100 x 2-3 mm, bearing at intervals small umbels; main umbels on stiff rays up to approximately 30 mm long, with narrow lanceolate involucral bracts about 5 mm long. Umbellules on spreading rays up to 10 mm long, about 5 mm diameter. Fruit approximately 4 mm long.
Aciphylla horrida the leaves have a short stout petiole dividing near the base of the leaf, in A. ferox the petiole is long (100-150 mm), so only the upper half of the leaf is divided.
Also see taxonomic notes below.
November – January (-February)
January – March
Winged schizocarps are dispersed primarily by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).
aciphylla: From the Latin acicula ‘needle’ and the Greek phyllum ‘leaf’, meaning needle-leaf.
ferox: From the Latin ferox ‘fierce’, usually referring to very spiny plants
Dawson & LeComte suggest this species is part of the group with milky juice. They note it may also be seen to hybridise; A. ferox x A. anomala seen in north-west Nelson and reported by J. W. Dawson.
An entity known as Aciphylla “Lomondi” is also similar to this species, “it is found in the dryer eastern areas (Livingstone Mts, Eyre Mts, Wakatipu Basin). It can be difficult distinguishing it from A. aurea where the two species meet. Generally, the leaf segments are wider and often but not always glaucous (Lyttle, pers. comm. 2021)”.
Description adapted by M. Ward from Allan (1961) and Mark (2012).
References and further reading
Allan, H. H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand. Vol. 1. Wellington: Government Printer. pg. 485-486.
Dawson, J.W. LeComte, J.R. 1978. Research on Aciphylla - a progress report. Tuatara 23: pg. 49-67.
Lyttle, D. 2021. Personal communication on InaturalistNZ January 17th 2021. https://inaturalist.nz/observations/68189913
Mark, A. F. 2012. Above the Treeline: A Nature Guide to Alpine New Zealand. Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson. pg. 138, 140.
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