Dracophyllum virgatum (Cheeseman) Cockayne; Dracophyllum uniflorum var. virgatum Cheeseman
Vascular – Native
Trees & Shrubs - Dicotyledons
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 = 26
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 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Low-growing, erect grassy shrub with sparse long narrow leaves at tips of narrow twigs inhabiting wetlands mostly in the northern South Island. Leaves 14-27mm long by 0.5-1mm wide, leaf tip nearly blunt, base enclosing stem and with fine hairs on margin (lens needed). Flower solitary, below leaves.
Endemic. New Zealand: South Island (most commonly seen in the northern half but extending south to western Southland)
Sea level to alpine. Dracophyllum palustre is a species of mostly openly vegetated poorly draining, boggy, swampy or permanently moist habitats.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
OBL: Obligate Wetland
Almost always is a hydrophyte, rarely in uplands (non-wetlands).
Multi–stemmed scrambler or sub–shrub, 0.2–1.0 m tall. Branches spreading to decumbent. Bark on old branches dark grey, smooth, young stems reddish brown to purplish brown. Leaves erect to spreading, olive green; lamina sheath 2.5–6.0 × 2.2–4.0 mm, tapering to truncate and margin membranous, ciliate; lamina 14.0–27.0 × 0.5–1.0 mm, linear, adaxial surface flat, occasionally minutely scabrous with a tuft of scabrid hairs at the base; margins serrulate with 70–110 teeth per 10 mm; apex keeled, triquetrous. Inflorescence a solitary terminal, sessile flower on shortened lateral branchlets (these shorter than leaves); inflorescence bract equaling flower, 4.0–4.5 × 1.5–2.0 mm, light to dark green, ovate–lanceolate, adaxial surface pubescent at apex; margin ciliate; apex obtuse to acute; flower bracts over-topping flowers, 5.0–5.5 × 2.0–2.5 mm, ovate–lanceolate to ovate, surfaces glabrous with a tuft of scabrid hairs at base of adaxial surface; margins prominently white and ciliate; apices acute to slightly obtuse. Sepals 4.0–5.5 × 1–2 mm, ovate to triangular, equaling corolla tube, glabrous with the top half of the abaxial surface pubescent; margins ciliate; apices acute. Corolla white to light pink; corolla tube 3.5–5.0 × 2.0–2.2 mm, cylindrical; corolla lobes reflexed, 1.6–3.0 × 1.3–2.2 mm, ovate–triangular, shorter than corolla tube, apices inflexed, acute; adaxial surface papillate. Stamens inserted on corolla tube in the upper third, filaments 0.5–0.7 mm long; anthers included, 0.7–0.9 mm long, oblong, light yellow. Ovary 0.7–1.2 × 0.6–1.0 mm, obovate, apex truncate; nectary scales rectangular, 0.8–1.5 × 0.6–0.7 mm, apices retuse; style included, 1.0–1.2 mm long, glabrous; stigma five–lobed. Fruit 3.5–4.0 × 2.8–3.0 mm, light brown, obovoid, apex round to slightly truncate, glabrous. Seeds 0.95–1.0 mm long, yellowish brown, ovoid, testa slightly reticulate.
Dracophyllum palustre is recognised by the long, slender, sparingly leafy stems; leaves which are 14–27 × 0.5–1.0 mm, and whose apices are bluntly pointed while the shoulders of the lamina sheaths are rounded and ciliate; by the solitary flowers borne on the lateral branches; broad flower bracts with very wide pale margins and corolla tubes ranging from 3.5–5.0 mm long with acute lobes. Dracophyllum palustre is most similar to D. rosmarinifolium in that both species have solitary flowers and narrow short leaves, but it differs in the slender, strict, sparingly leafy habit, and small leaves while the small flowers are arranged on short peduncles. It is even more similar to the North Island endemic D. subulatum from which it differs in the absence of juvenile leaves, flowers which are solitary not arranged in spikes with the inflorescence bract equaling the flower and having a ciliate not serrulate margin. The sepal is longer (4.0–5.5 cf. 2.6–3.2 mm) with the top half of the abaxial surface pubescent. The corolla tube is also much larger (3.5–5.0 × 2.0–2.2 cf. 1.8–2.0 × 1.0–1.2 mm) with larger nectary scales (0.8–1.5 × 0.6–0.7 cf. 0.4–0.5 × 0.3–0.5 mm) and fruit (3.5–4.0 × 2.8–3.0 cf. 2.9–3.0 × 1.7–1.8 mm).
October – July
December - September
Minute seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Difficult - should not be removed from the wild
dracophyllum: Dragon leaf, from its likeness to the dragon tree of the Canary Islands
palustre: From the Latin palus ‘swamp’, meaning growing in swamps
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (16 April 2012). Description adapted from Venter (2009)
References and further reading
Venter, S. 2009: A taxonomic revision of the genus Dracophyllum Labill. (Ericaceae). Unpublished Phd Thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington.
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
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Dracophyllum palustre Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/dracophyllum-palustre/ (Date website was queried)