Giant sedge, Gahnia, mountain Gahnia
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.
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.
2012 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. North, South and Stewart islands. In the North Island known from the Coromandel Peninsula south of which it is mostly confined to the main axial ranges. In the South Island confined to the wetter western areas of Nelson, Westland and Fiordland with rare extensions east into Marlborough and Canterbury. Found throughout Stewart Island.
Montane to subalpine (up to 1300 m a.s.l.). Usually in forest and subalpine scrub. Mostly in cool, shaded sites on peat but at higher altitudes and in cloud forest it often grows in more open sites, in boulder field, on rubble slopes, on cliff faces and on the margins of mires and bogs in subalpine scrub.
Robust tussock forming perennial sedge. Tufts arising from a short rootstock. Culms 0.3-1.2 m, 2-4 mm diameter. Leaves numerous, = or > culms, densely crowded at base of culm; lamina up to 1.2 m long, dark green above somewhat paler and often glaucous beneath, narrowly linear, glabrous above, margins flat or recurved otherwise strongly involute when dry, smooth at base, scabrid towards apex; sheaths dull brown, up to 180 mm long. Panicle immersed within foliage, 200-600 x 25-50 mm, more or less drooping, branchlets often in more or less distant clusters. Spikelets 1(-2)-flowered, 9-14 mm long, on slender peduncles or more or less sessile. Glumes 4-5, purple-black, the 2-3 outer glumes empty, lanceolate with a long scabrid awn, the inner 1-2 shorter, deeply concave. Stamens 4-6. Style-branches 4(-5). Nut 5.0-6.5 x 2.0-2.5 mm, brownish orange, or rarely cream, smooth and glossy, ovoid to elliptic-ovoid, occasionally slightly grooved, apex darker, obtuse, rarely scaberulous, wider than the short persistent style-base; endocarp distinctly transversely grooved within.
Of all the Gahnia species G. procera is most likely to be confused with Gahnia pauciflora which has a similar stature and can grow in similar habitats. From that species G. procera is distinguished by the inflorescences which are usually hidden amongst the foliage rather than towering over it, and by the purple-black glumes with lower sterile glumes > the upper fertile glumes. The nut of G. procera is ovoid to elliptic-ovoid, uniformly coloured brownish-orange (rarely cream) with the tip only slightly darker, while those of G. pauciflora are fusiform, brownish-orange or yellow-cream, with the tip consistently pigmented black. Morelotia affinis (Brong.) Blake although superficially similar is a much smaller plant of lower altitudes whose glumes are spirally rather than distichously arranged.
December - February
Fruit may be found throughout the year
Florets are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Difficult to culivate. Best results are achieved with seed sown into untreated saw dust. Plants resent root disturbance and usually die if transplanted. Despite these problems this is an attractive species well worth attempting to grow. Once established it flourishes in a range of conditions but does best in partial shade in a damp, humus-enriched but well drained soil.
gahnia: After Gahn
procera: Long (filaments)
Fact Sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange (30 October 2005). Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970)
References and further reading
Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, 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
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Gahnia procera Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/gahnia-procera/ (Date website was queried)