Lachnagrostis littoralis subsp. salaria
Southern coastal wind grass
Vascular – Native
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 | Data Deficient
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. Restricted to the South Island where it is known from estuaries near Christchurch south to the Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island. It also occurs inland at the Sutton Salt Lakes, near Middlemarch, Otago
Mainly coastal, where it inhabits estuaries and saltmarshes. Usually on open mud flats or on shell beds in places often flooded during spring or King tides. Very rarely found inland around salt pans and lakes.
Densely tufted, light green to greyish green or glaucous, coarse, stiffly erect annual to short-lived perennial grass 30-400 mm tall, whole plant often withering early and culms not breaking up below panicle. Branching intravaginal. Leaf-sheath firmly membranous, glabrous. Ligule 1.5-3.0 mm, oblong, tapered, subobtuse or denticulate, sometimes lacerate, undersides smooth. Leaf-blade firm 40-150 x 0.5 mm, often involute, or flat, up to 2 mm wide, underside smooth or minutely papillose, rarely scabrid, upper surface minutely scabrid on ribs and margins, leaf tip acute to subobtuse. Culm 70-300 mm, included within leaf-sheaths, internodes finely scabrid below panicle, rarely visible until culm breaks up at maturity. Panicle 40-200 x 10-180 mm, delicate, ± contracted, later spreading (sometimes remaining contracted), enclosed at base by sheath of uppermost culm-leaf; branches and branchlets ± erect, all ± equal in length, slender, scabrid, naked for much of their length, the ultimate branchlets tipped by 1-2 spikelets. Spikelets 3-4 mm, light green or greenish brown, slender. Glumes unequal; lower slightly shorter, elliptic-lanceolate, acute 1-nerved; upper elliptic-ovate ± acuminate, 3-nerved, smooth, keel scabrid, margins hyaline, finely scabrid above. Lemma 2.5-3.0 mm long, elliptic-lanceolate; 5-nerved with scattered to rather dense short silky hairs, often glabrous above, lateral nerves shortly excurrent, faintly scabrid; awn 2.5-4.0 mm long, ± mid-dorsal, straight or curved, slightly twisted near base. Palea slightly < lemma, nerves 0.1-0.2 mm apart, keels 0.3 mm apart, minutely excurrent, faintly scabrid at apex. Callus hairs dense, very short, to 0.5 mm long covered one-fifth of lemma. Rachilla prolongation 0, or up to 0.9 mm long, with hair tuft to 1.2 mm long. Lodicules 0.8-0.9 mm long, linear, acute. Anthers 0.5-0.7 mm. Seed 1.3-1.6 x 0.4 mm.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
This supspecies often keys to Lachnagrostis ammobia in the Flora, a species which is also found within part of the range of L. littoralis subsp. salaria. In contrast, L. ammobia is usually found on sandy areas (rather than estaurine salt meadow), the infloresence is open and usually lies close to the ground (rather than contracted then opening and erect) and has larger spikelets (> 4mm) and hairier lemma.Distinguished from L. littoralis subsp. filiformis Edgar by the curved rather than geniculate awn, and generally larger size and taller stature. Lachnagrostis littoralis subsp. salaria is allopatric from subsp. littoralis, being confined to the eastern South Island (from North Canterbury south) and Stewart Island. It is also a much coarser grass than subsp. littoralis. From L. filiformis it differs by the ± equal lengths of the naked primary and secondary panicle branches, and by the lemma usually 1.8-3.0 mm (cf. 1.3-2.0 mm long in L. filiformis) and anthers 0.4-0.7 rather than 0.2-0.5 mm long. Lachnagrostis littoralis subsp. littoralis further differs from L. filiformis in that it is strictly coastal and usually a much smaller, more delicate, annual grass. Another coastal Lachnagrostis, L. ammobia is also found within part of the range of L. littoralis subsp. salaria, but L. ammobia is usually found on sandy areas (rather than estaurine salt meadow), the inflorescene is open and usually lies close to the ground (rather than contracted then opening and erect) and has larger spikelets (> 4mm) and hairier lemma.
October - February
November - May
Easy from fresh seed. Prefers to grow in full sun within a damp soil
lachnagrostis: From “lachne” (wool) referring to the distinctive callus hairs of this genus and “agrostis” by which Trinius (1820) actually meant “a grass” (not an Agrostis). So the generic name means “a hairy (woolly) grass” not “a hairy (woolly) Agrostis” as is often incorrectly stated (see Gardner 2014).
littoralis: From the Latin littus ‘shore’, meaning shore-loving or growing on the shore
Lachnagrostis littoralis subsp. salaria warrants elevation to species rank (see Murray et al. 2003,; Mrray et al. 2005).
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April June 2005. Description modified from Edgar & 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.
Gardner, R.O. 2014: Notes on the wind grass Lachnagrostis filiformis (Poaceae). Auckland Botanical Society Journal 69: 168-170.
Murray, B.G.; Weir, I.; Ferguson, A.R.; de Lange, P.J. 2003: Variation in DNA C-value and genome size in New Zealand native grasses. New Zealand Journal of Botany 41: 63-69.
Murray, B.G.; de Lange, P.J.; Ferguson, A.R. 2005: Nuclear DNA Variation, Chromosome Numbers and Polyploidy in the Endemic and Indigenous Grass Flora of New Zealand. Annals of Botany 96: 1293-1305.
Trinius, C.B. 1820: Fundamenta Agrostographiae. J.G.Huebner, Vienna.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Lachnagrostis littoralis subsp. salaria Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/lachnagrostis-littoralis-subsp-salaria/ (Date website was queried)