Fiordland snow tussock, spiral-leaved snow tussock
None (first described in 1963)
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: DP, PD, RR
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: PD, RR
2009 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon
2004 | Range Restricted
Endemic. New Zealand: South Island (Fiordland (Takahe Valley (Murchison Mountains); Lake Monk (Cameron Mountains); Mt Luxmore (Kepler Mountains).
Upper montane to subalpine. On and around limestone bluffs, talus and associated soils.
Slender tussock with narrow leaves falling and leaving inwardly spiralling sheaths. Sheaths to 200 mm, glabrous, pale, chartaceous, spiralling and breaking into short segments, margin hairy above, apical tuft to 3 mm. Ligule to 1 mm. Lamina to 500 × 1 mm, acicular junceous, veins few, falling with part of sheath, abaxially with occasional long (2 mm) hairs below, adaxially with dense weft of long (3 mm) hairs at base projecting over smooth margin, scattered prickle teeth above. Culm to 650 mm, internodes glabrous. Inflorescence to 120 mm, narrow, glabrous except for occasional long hairs at axils. Spikelets of up to 7 florets. Glumes glabrous, > adjacent lemma lobes, acute or shortly awned; lower to 12 mm, 3-nerved, upper to 13 mm, 3-5-nerved. Lemma to 5 mm; hairs dense on margin fewer aside central nerve, glabrous or sparsely hairy elsewhere, < sinus; lateral lobes up to 4.5 mm, long triangular-acute; central awn up to 13 mm divergent from 2.5 mm flat column. Palea to 6 mm. Callus 0.5 mm, hairs to 3 mm. Rachilla to 0.8 mm. Lodicules to 0.75 mm. Anthers to 4 mm. Ovary to 0.75 mm, stigma-styles to 4.5 mm. Seeds not described.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
November - Janaury
January - May
Florets are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from fresh seed and from rooted pieces but very slow to establish. Prefers a damp soil, and is best grown in semi-shaded conditions. In the northern part of its New Zealand this species rarely flowers.
Naturally Uncommon. A narrow range endemic of limestone substrates within Fiordland National Park. Known populations are small and some are being impacted upon by deer. However, there is insufficient evidence to satisfactorily assess this species as being threatened. Further field work and monitoring to resolve this uncertainity is much desired
chionochloa: Snow grass
spiralis: From the Latin spira ‘coil’ or ‘twist’ and -alis ‘resembling’, resembling a twist or corkscrew, spiral-shaped
Where To Buy
Not Commericially Available
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.
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 11: 285-309