Chatham Island astelia or kakaha, Moriori flax
Astelia nervosa var. chathamica Skottsb.
Vascular – Native
Herbs - Monocots
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 = 70
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 | At Risk – Recovering | Qualifiers: CD, IE, RR
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | At Risk – Recovering | Qualifiers: IE, RR
2004 | Threatened – Nationally Endangered
Kakaha has long flax-like leaves clad in silvery hairs. Male and female flowers are found on separate plants. The male flower stalk is very thick and bears dark green, scented flowers, while the female plant has pale, greenish-white flowers. Flowering occurs from October to December, while the orange or red fruit may be seen from February to July.
Endemic to the Chatham Islands where it is known from Chatham Island and Pitt Island.
Kakaha occupies a range of moist sites. It can be found on forest floors, cliffs, rock bluffs, lakeshore scarps and stream margins, as well as in swamps. It was formerly widespread, but now tends to be restricted to sheltered, rocky, or protected spots in the bush or scrub where it is safe from grazing.
October - December
February - July
Fleshy berries are dispersed by frugivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Browsing and physical destruction by stock and feral animals have impacted severely on this species.
chathamica: From the Chatham Islands
Where To Buy
Commonly available as Astelia cv. Silver Spear.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2003.
References and further reading
Walls, G.; Baird, A.; de Lange, P.J.; Sawyer, J.W.D. 2002: Threatened plants of the Chatham Islands. Wellington, Department of Conservation.
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
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Astelia chathamica Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/astelia-chathamica/ (Date website was queried)