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 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). 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.
2018 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. North and South Islands from Maungapohatu (Te Urewera) south but scarce in the North Island.
Epilobium gracilipes is a bascicolous species confined to limestone, marble and other associated calcareous rocks (there is one known occurrence on andesite rocks on Mt Ruapehu). It is known from montane to alpine habitats (strictly subalpine to alpine in the North Island), and favours sheltered cliff faces and crevices in open forest, shrubland or grassland. Although E. gracilipes has a highly disjunct distribution it is usually abundant at the sites in which it has been found.
Dark reddish-tinged, decumbent perennial herb bearing numerous leafy stems and forming clumped, matted patches up to 200 mm diameter. Plants with lines of erect or appressed non-glandular hairs decurrent from the margins of the petioles. Leaves mostly opposite, alternate in the inflorescence, thick, fleshy lustrous, dark green tinged red or bright red above, usually bright red below, lateral veins not prominent, 2-3 on each side of midrib; petioles 1.2 mm long; lamina 5-18 x 3-10 mm (often equal in length to the internodes they subtend), narrowly ovate or ovate, apex rounded, obtuse to aubacute, base truncate, margins revolute, coarsely, remotely serrulate, teeth absent or up to 4 either side. Inflorescences 1-3(-8)-flowered, glabrous, borne in the axils of the upper leaves, nodding; flowers nodding, ovaries erect. Ovaries 8-18 mm long, on glabrous pedicels 10-34 mm long. Floral tube 0.5-1.5 x 0.9-1.4 mm, glabrous. Sepals keeled, 3.6-4.6 x 0.8-1.1 mm, glabrous. Petals 3.5-6.4 x 2.5-4.5 mm, white (sometimes flushed pink), the notch 0.7-1.8 mm deep. Anthers 0.6-0.8 x 0.35-0.45 mm, yellow; filaments white, those of the longer stamens 1.5-3.5 mm long, those of the shorter 1.0-1.5 mm long, the anthers of both pairs or the longer ones only shedding pollen directly onto stigma after the flower opens. Style 2.2-3.6 mm long, white; stigma 1.0-1.5 x 0.7-0.8 mm, white, clavate. Capsule 28-50 mm long, on pedicels 17-60 mm long. Seeds 1.1-1.5 mm long, brown to grey-brown or orange-brown, oblong-obovate to obovate, finely reticulate-mamillate; coma 3.0-7.0 mm long, white, persistent or caducous.
Epilobium gracilipes is a very distinctive species easily recognised by its ecological preference for base-rich (usually limestone, marble and associated calcareous rock), and by the combination of having a decumbent, clumped growht habit, stems with pubescent lines decurrent from the petiole margins, thick, fleshy, glossy, dark green, red-tinged or bright red leaves (with distinctive red undersides), and nodding flowers.
November - March
January - May
Minute pappate seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Epilobium gracilipes is a very attractive species well suited for cultivation in a rock garden. For best results it should be planted on or near some limestone rock, or given regular applications of lime. It prefers a sunny, well drained situaion o rplants are inclined to suffer from powdery mildew. Unlike many other epilobia E. gracilipes is not inclined to be weedy. Plants may be short-lived. Easily grown from rooted pieces and fresh seed.
epilobium: From the Greek epi- ‘upon’ and lobos ‘a pod’, the flowers appearing to be growing on the seed pod.
Where To Buy
Not commercially available.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (28 October 2012).Description adapted from Raven & Raven (1976) and Webb & Simpson (2001).
References and further reading
Raven, P.H.; Raven, T.E. 1976: The genus Epilobium in Australasia. New Zealand DSIR Bulletin 216. Wellington, Government Printer.
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
Webb, C.J.; Simpson, M.J.A. 2011: Seeds of New Zealand Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Christchurch, Manuka Press.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Epilobium gracilipes Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/epilobium-gracilipes/ (Date website was queried)