Chionochloa rubra subsp. rubra var. inermis
Mt Egmont snow tussock
None (first described in 1991)
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 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.
2017 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: OL, St
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: OL
2009 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: OL
2004 | Range Restricted
Endemic. New Zealand: North Island (Mt Egmont)
Subalpine to alpine and in some of the larger upper montane bogs. The dominant tussock of Mt Egmonts grasslands and bogs (rarely in subalpine scrub).
Tall, slender, reddish-green tussock with crowded, erect, stiff, rush-like leaves. Leaf-sheath to 300 mm, dark brown, keeled, incurving, remaining entire or fracturing into short segments, margin separating and coiling, apical tuft of hairs to 3 mm. Ligule to 1 mm. Leaf-blade to 1 m long and 1.2 mm diameter, greenish, acicular rush-like, splitting longitudinally, keel hollow, undersides glabrous but infrequently with long hairs near base, prickle-teeth towards apex, upper surface papillate; margin smooth. Culm to 1.5 m, internodes glabrous but sometimes long hairy, sheath glabrous. Inflorescence to 450 mm, open on pulvinate branches, glabrous except for long hairs at branch axils and short stiff hairs below spikelets, rarely becoming scabrid above. Spikelets of up to 9 florets. Glumes glabrous, acute, infrequently awned, less than or equal to adjacent lemma lobes, lower to 12 mm, 1-3-5-nerved, upper to 14 mm, 3-7-nerved. Lemma to 6 mm; hairs dense on margin, usually absent or sparse elsewhere, < sinus; lateral lobes to 6 mm including awn to 3 mm, rarely unawned; central awn to 13 mm from twisting column to 3 mm. Palea to 8 mm. Callus to 1.5 mm, hairs to 4 mm. Rachilla to 0.75 mm. Lodicules to 1 mm. Anthers to 5 mm. Ovary to 1 mm; stigma-styles to 4 mm. Seeds to 3.5 mm
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
Chionochloa rubra Zotov subsp. rubra var. rubra from which var. inermis differs by the greenish rather than red to red-brown leaves; upper leaf-suraces which are papillate rather than covered in fine prickle-teeth; by the smooth rather than scabrid leaf margins, and by the larger anthers (to 5.0 mm cf. 3.5 mm in var. rubra).
October - December
November - May
Easy from fresh seed and the division of whole plants. However, slow growing and dislikes warm, humid climates and drought. The unusual (for a member of the red tussock group) greenish foliage becomes more pronounced in winter
Range Restricted endemic abundant within its only known location Mt Egmont National Park. There are no known serious threats to this tussock in the wild.
chionochloa: Snow grass
inermis: Not spiny, unarmed
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (June 2005). Description modified from Edgar and Connor (2000)
References and further reading
Edgar, E.; Connor, H.E. 2000: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. V. Grasses. Christchurch, Manaaki Whenua Press. 650 pp.