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 = 56
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 Island (south-west Kaimanawa Mountains, north-west Ruahine Range, Manawatu Gorge, coastal from Cape Turnagain to Cook Strait); South Island (Marlborough Sounds, Kaikoura Ranges to Waipara, North Canterbury)
Coastal, otherwise montane to alpine. On rocks, cliffs and bluffs. Often on limestone.
Scrambling, prostrate, ± ascending or sometimes densely caespitose, glaucous grass with many-leaved vegetative shoots and inflorescences exceeding these. Branching extravaginal. Leaf-sheath 30-100 mm, glabrous, ribbed, manifestly broader than leaf-blade, becoming fibrous with evident white nerves; apical auricles 0.2-0.7 mm, rounded, ciliate. Ligule 0.2-0.5 mm, flat to ± triangular between auricles, ciliate. Collar scarcely or ± thickened. Leaf-blade 50.0-250.0 × 0.3-0.9 mm, weakly hexagonal and ribbed, often terete usually secund, glaucous, smooth except for prickle-teeth at apex, adaxially and on margins antrorsely short white hairy becoming less so above. Culm 200-500 mm, greatly exceeding leaf-blades, nodes brown to purple-brown usually geniculate, internodes glabrous. Panicle (25-200 mm, with 5-9 nodes, 6-25 spikelets; branches spreading erect or weakly so, occasionally ± divergent, binate or solitary, basal branch (10-100 mm of 3-6 spikelets, naked below or not naked below (especially in Cook Strait), uppermost 5-6 spikelets, imbricate, solitary on short pedicels; rachis prickle-toothed often glabrous below, branches and pedicels prickle-toothed (glabrous throughout in Cook Strait); frequently tortuous below. Spikelets 7-20 × 3-5 mm, of 4-9 stramineous florets. Glumes unequal, evidently keeled, linear-oblong narrowing abruptly to an acute or mucronate apex, glabrous but occasionally prickle-toothed on keel above, apex sometimes shortly or evidently ciliate, margins membranous, ciliate above; lower 2.5-4.5 mm, 1-nerved, upper 4-6 mm, 3-nerved. Lemma 5-6 mm, glaucous, apex shortly lobed or 0, 5-nerved, keeled, smooth except for prickle-teeth at base and extending from callus to outer nerve below, and on keel above; awn 0 or 0.5-1.5 mm. Palea 4.5-6.5 mm, greater than or equal to lemma, acute, shortly bifid, keels toothed towards apex, interkeel hairs above but sometimes to base, flanks short ciliate above. Callus 0.3-0.5 mm, upper margins shortly bearded, less so centrally; articulation ± oblique. Rachilla 1.0-1.3 mm, sparsely short stiff hairy. Lodicules 0.7-1.5 mm, bifid or lobed, usually glabrous but occasionally hair-tipped. Anthers 2.0-3.0 mm, yellow to orange. Ovary 0.6-1.0 mm, ± turbinate, apex glabrous or with hispid hairs; stigma-styles 1.5-2.5 mm. Seed 3.0-3.5 mm
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
September - December
November - April
Florets are dispersed by wind, water and attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from fresh seed and rooted pieces. Does well in a rockery, tolerant of full sun and shade but dislikes humidity of damp conditions.
festuca: From the Latin festuca ‘stem’ or ‘blade of grass’
Where To Buy
Occasionally offered by specialist native plant nurseries.
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