Aciphylla squarrosa var. squarrosa
Vascular – Native
Herbs - Dicotyledons other than Composites
2n = 22
Current conservation status
The threat classification 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) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website 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. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2018 | At Risk – Declining
Previous conservation statuses
2017 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: DP, PD
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. North and South Islands, Mount Hikurangi south to the Kaikoura Ranges
Coastal to montane.
Usually, large plants up to 1 m tall, forming dense tussocks. Leaves numerous, 3-pinnate, spreading, subglaucous; margins and midribs crenulate-serrulate; occasionally plants may have some leaves 2-pinnate. Sheaths erect, whitish, fleshy except membranous margins, up to 150 x 50 mm; stipules with petiolate bases approximately 20 x 10 mm, unequal, 3-foliolate, outer segments up to 200 mm, inner to 60 mm, terminal to 250 mm long, pungent; petiolar or ligular portion sometimes up to about 40mm long. Petioles up to about 150 mm x 1-2 mm, internodes up to 50 mm long. Primary pinnae usually 1 pair, again pinnate, internodes about 30 mm long; secondary pinnae usually 1 pair, again pinnate, sometimes bearing accessory pinnules; final segments up to 250 mm x 4 mm, concavo-convex, with long pungent points. Flowering stems of male plants ridged; up to approximately 80 cm x 20 mm including inflorescence up to approximately 40 cm long. Bracts numerous; sheaths pale, membranous, ridged, up to 40 x 10 mm, tapering to apex; stipules unequal, up to 30 x 1 mm. Lamina 3-foliolate; lateral pair of leaflets up to approximately 90 mm long; terminal leaflet to 200-250 x 3 mm, stiff, pungent, becoming strongly reflexed. Umbels on stout peduncles up to approximately 60-100 mm long, usually with lateral umbellules near base as well as at apex, up to about 40 mm diameter. Umbellules crowded, forming heads approximately 20 mm diameter; rays numerous, about 10 mm long. Flowering stems of female plants up to 100 cm tall including inflorescence up to approximately 60 cm tall. Bract-sheaths thin, ribbed; lower approximately 50 x 20 mm, stipules unequal, 40-80-(150) mm long. Lamina of lower sheaths pinnate, with occasionally accessory pinnules; petiole flat, about 10 mm long, internodes up to 20 mm long; pinnae 2 pairs; terminal leaflet up to 150 mm long, at length strongly reflexed. Umbels approximately 8, on stout peduncles approximately 50 mm long bearing lateral umbellules near base; involucral bracts linear. Umbellules up to 10, approximately 15 mm diameter, on short rays. Petals pale yellow. Fruit approximately 6-8 mm long; mericarps 3-4 winged.
Aciphylla squarrosa var. flaccida, is distinguished from this species by not having appressed bract segments and having narrower flexible leaf segments (Dawson & LeComte, 1978).
Aciphylla glaucescens, when juvenile may be mistaken for this species, in general A. glaucescens is a larger species when mature up to 1.5 metres. In A. squarrosa the flowering stem bracts, are strongly reflexed, where in A. glaucescens they are not reflexed.
October – December
November - 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.
squarrosa: Rough, with scale-like projections; from the Latin squarrosus; leaves and leaf stalks
Dawson & LeComte suggest this species is part of the group with clear juice.
The A. squarrosa group is currently (2022) being revised so further information be revealed in the near future.
Description adapted by M. Ward from Allan (1961).
References and further reading
Allan, H. H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand. Vol. 1. Wellington: Government Printer. pg. 480-481.
Dawson, J.W. LeComte, J.R. 1978. Research on Aciphylla - a progress report. Tuatara 23: pg. 49-67.
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