Epilobium brunnescens subsp. brunnescens
Epilobium pedunculare var. brunnescens Cockayne.
Vascular – Native
Herbs - Dicotyledons other than Composites
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 = 36
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
Endemic. New Zealand. North, South, Stewart, Chatham, Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie Islands. Naturalised in the British Isles and the Guernsey Islands.
Widespread in open ground, especially along the sides gravelly river beds and on damp rock faces. Uncommon in the northern North Island, and as a rule more common in montane areas of that island. A species preferring areas of high rainfall so less common in the eastern South Island.
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).
FACW: Facultative Wetland
Usually is a hydrophyte but occasionally found in uplands (non-wetlands).
Matted, creeping herb forming patches up to 2 m across. Stems light brown, with well-marked lines of strigillose hairs running down from margins of petioles, very rarely glabrous. Flowers arising individually from the leaf axils, the stems continuing to grow and root beyond the point where flowers are produced. Leaves opposite, firmly membranous; dull green often with a red or brown-tinge, bearing 0-1(-2) obscure laterial veins either side of midrib; lamina 1.5-13.0 × 1.5-12.0 mm ovate to broadly ovate, apex rounded to obtuse, base obtuse to truncate, entire, rarely with 1-2(-4) weakly developed teeth on each margin; petiole often absent, if present then 0.5-6.0(-7.0) mm long. Flowers usually drooping at anthesis (rarely erect). Ovaries green or coppery, 6-22 mm long; subglabrous or sparsely hairy, indumentum comprised of appressed eglandular or erect glandular or eglandular hairs; borne on a glabrous pedicle, 7-55(-80) mm long; flowers falling when pedicel elongation is complete. Sepals not keeled, 1.5-3.4(-4.0) × 0.9-1.2 mm, glabrous, occasionally bearing sparse, appressed eglandular or erect glandular or eglandular hairs. Petals white, (2.3)-3.2-7.0 × 1.8-5.0 mm, notch 0.9-1.4 mm deep. Anthers yellow, 0.4-0.75 × 0.3-0.6 mm, filaments of longer anthers 0.9-2.5 mm long, those of shorter 0.5-2.1 mm. Style white, 1.2-3.2 mm long; stigma white, clavate, 1.0-1.3(-2.55) × 0.6-0.9 mm, surrounded by anthers at anthesis. Capsule glabrate or sparsely hairy, indumentum of appressed eglandular or erect glandular or eglandular hairs running along lines of dehiscence, 12-60 mm long, borne on a glabrous pedicel (16-)35-80(-120) mm long. Seeds brown, 0.75-1.2 × 0.2-0.4 mm, obovoid, minutely papillose; coma 4-7 mm long, readily detaching or persistent.
Epilobium brunnescens subsp. brunnescens is most likely to be confused with E. nerteroides with which it often grows, and E. nummlarifolium. Epilobium nerteroides is distinguished from E. brunnescens by its smaller and looser (less matted) growth habit; subglabrous stems, glabrous ovaries, and flowers which fall before pedicel elongation has completed. From Epilobium nummularifolium, E. brunnescens differs by the leaf shape (ovate to broadly ovate c.f. broadly ovate to oblate) and texture (firmly membranous to almost fleshy (so scarcely wilting when picked)), c.f membranous (wilting readily when picked)). In Epilobium brunnescens, the pedicel usually completes elongation before the flower drops off, whereas the flowers drop before pedicel elongation has completed in E. nummularifolium. The capsules of Epilobium brunnescens are glabrate to very sparsely hairy, whereas those of E. nummularifolium are copiously invested in grey-strigillose hairs. Finally Epilobium brunnescens subsp. minutiflorum though treated as a subspecies of E. brunnescens merits species rank. The two subspecies are often sympatric / syntopic, and are morphologically distinct from each other.
October - April
December - May
Easily grown from seed and rooted pieces. Inclined to become weedy.
epilobium: From the Greek epi- ‘upon’ and lobos ‘a pod’, the flowers appearing to be growing on the seed pod.
brunnescens: Pale brown
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (30 December 2019). Description adapted from Raven & Raven (1976).
References and further reading
Raven, P.H.; Raven, T.E. 1976: The genus Epilobium in Australasia. New Zealand DSIR Bulletin 216. Wellington, Government Printer.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Epilobium brunnescens subsp. brunnescens Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/epilobium-brunnescens-subsp-brunnescens/ (Date website was queried)