Lampocarya xanthocarpa Hook.f.; Gahnia ebenocarpa Hook.f. ex Kirk; Claudium xanthocarpum (Hook.f.) F.Muell.; Gahnia setifolia (A.Rich.) Hook.f. var. xanthocarpa (Hook.f.) Kük.
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 Island (from Te Paki south to Wellington but uncommon, or absent over some parts of this range), South Island (Nelson, Marlborough, Westland and Canterbury - where it is very uncommon).
Coastal to montane (up to 800 m a.s.l. - possibly more). Occupying a diverse range of habitats and vegetation associations, Gahnia xanthocarpa seems to prefer permanently damp situations within alluvial forest, swamp forest and the margins of lowland swamps, bogs and waterways
Robust perennial sedge arising from a lignaceous rootstock up to 30 mm diameter and forming densely tufted dark green tussocks up to 3.5 m tall. Culms 10 mm diameter (but up to 15 mm diameter at the base). Leaves = to or slightly < culms, not usually overtopping the panicle; lamina dark glossy green above, paler beneath, surfaces harshly scabrid, margins involute, ciliate just above the transverse line demarcating the sheath from the lamina, becoming more intensely scabrid higher up with a few longitudinal rows of teeth just inside the margin on the lamina undersides; sheaths dull, light pinkish brown, glabrous up to 40 mm wide. Panicles set well above foliage, drooping, 0.6-1.5 m long, heavily branched, primary branchlets up to 450 mm long. Spikelets 2-flowered, c.8 mm long, numerous, densely crowded, stalked, light chestnut-brown. Glumes 6-7; outer 3-4 empty, more or less equal, 7-8 mm long; inner 3 glumes smaller, 5-6 mm long, red-brown, or green-brown below and red brown towards apices. Stamens 4, bright red-brown. Style-branches 3-4. Nut 5-6 x 2-3 mm, fusiform, bright yellow maturing glossy black when fully ripe, sometimes slightly grooved, shortly stipitate, with alight orange-brown, obtuse, pubescent apex; endocarp transversely grooved within.
Gahnia xanthocarpa could only ever be confused with the other giants of the New Zealand species G. setifolia (A. Rich.) Hook.f. and G. rigida Kirk. Gahnia xanthocarpa frequently grows G. setifolia from which it is easily distinguished by its glossy dark green leaves, reddish brown spikelets which are > 7 mm long and dark glossy black nuts which are > 5 mm long. Gahnia xanthocarpa rarely grows with G. rigida from which it is easily distinguished by its drooping rather than rigidly erect panicle and dark glossy black nuts
January - April
Fruits may be found throughout the year
Florets are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Can be difficult to cultivate. The seed is difficult to germinate, and plants resent root disturbance and usually die if transplanted. However, considerable success has been achieved growing plants and/or germinating seed in untreated saw dust. 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 planted in a permanently damp, humus-rich soil.
gahnia: After Gahn
xanthocarpa: Yellow fruit
There seems to be no basis for records of this species from Fiji and the New Hebrides. Lord Howe plants have recently been separated as a distinct endemic species Gahnia howense R.O.Gardner.
Notes on etymology
The specific epithet xanthocarpa literally ‘yellow-fruit’ is inappropriate and was given by accident because the type material is of a specimen J.D. Hooker did not realise was bearing immature nuts which in this species are bright yellow. When the nuts of this species mature they are diagnostically dark glossy black.
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 xanthocarpa Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/gahnia-xanthocarpa/ (Date website was queried)