mountain snow tussock, snow patch grass
Danthonia oreophila Petrie; Danthonia pallida Petrie
Vascular – Native
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 = 42
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) – 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.
Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – an interim threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
- Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017 . 2018. 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. Department of Conservation. Source: NZTCS and licensed by DOC for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.
2017 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. New Zealand: South Island (East and West of Main Divide from Nelson to Fiordland).
Subalpine to alpine. Inhabiting tussock grasslands, snow hollows and banks.
Small, pale tussock with persistent sheaths, and leaves very much shorter than slender flowering culms. Leaf-sheath to 50 mm, pale, shiny, glabrous, chartaceous, persistent, margins undulating, apical tuft of hairs to 3 mm. Ligule 0.5–1.0 mm. Leaf-blade to 150 × 2 mm, U- or V-shaped, persistent, spiralling, pointed, narrower than sheath, keeled, veins few, abaxially with prickle-teeth in upper 1/3, long interrib hairs frequent; adaxially with scattered prickle-teeth; margins with prickle-teeth below becoming glabrous above. Culm to 300 mm, internodes glabrous. Inflorescence to 60 mm, up to 8 spikelets on flexuous, pulvinate branches, glabrous except for few long hairs at branch axils and below spikelets. Spikelets small, solitary, of up to 6 purpled or golden florets. Glumes ± equal, to 10 mm, apex sometimes shortly awned, > adjacent lemma lobes; lower 3–5-nerved, upper 5–7-nerved, margin often long hairy below. Lemma to 4.5 mm; hairs long on margins, few aside central nerves and often few in all internerves, < sinus; lateral lobes to 4.5 mm including awn to 2.5 mm, or shortly acute-triangular; central awn to 5.5 mm reflexed from flat 1.5 mm column. Palea to 5.5 mm. Callus to 1.5 mm, hairs to 2.5 mm. Rachilla to 0.75 mm. Lodicules to 0.6 mm. Anthers to 2.5 mm. Ovary to 0.7 mm; stigma-styles to 3 mm. Seeds to 2 mm.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
Florets are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from fresh seed and rooted pieces. Prefers a permanently damp, acidic soil and semi-shade. Plants must never be allowed to dry out.
chionochloa: Snow grass
oreophila: Mountain lover
Where To Buy
Not commercially available.
Fact sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange for NZPCN (1 June 2013)
References and further reading
Thorsen MJ, Dickinson KJM, Seddon PJ. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285–309.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Chionochloa oreophila Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/chionochloa-oreophila/ (Date website was queried)