Lepidium incisum Banks et Sol. ex Hook.f., Nasturtium neozelandicum Kuntze
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.
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 | Threatened – Nationally Endangered | Qualifiers: CD, EF, TO
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Threatened – Nationally Endangered | Qualifiers: CD, EF, TO
2009 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable | Qualifiers: CD, EF
2004 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
Indigenous. In New Zealand known from historic records around Auckland, Coromandel, the firth of Thames, and Wellington. In 2003 it was discovered at one site on the South Taranaki Coast. In the South Island, L. flexicaule is known from Cape Farewell to Greymouth. The species was also gathered on the Chatham Islands in the 1860s. It was rediscovered there, at one site, in 2004. Also present on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia. It is not considered common in Tasmania and it may well be threatened there (A. Buchan pers. comm.).
A coastal species usually found in coastal turfs, but also on rock stacks, outcrops, headlands, cliff faces and amongst boulders; often but not always in association with nesting or roosting seabird sites, and seal haul outs.
Decumbent, perennial, fleshy, tap-rooted herb producing 1-8(-many) trailing stems up to 400 mm long. Stems woody near base, square in cross-section, with angles finely denticulate. Basal leaves 30-150 x 10-45 mm. dark green to yellow-green, glabrous, pinnatifid to pinnate, narrow-obovate or narrow-oblong; pinnae in 2-8 pairs, coarsely to bluntly toothed. Stem leaves 10-30 x 3-10 mm, dark green or yellow-green, glabrous or sparsely and minute hairy, narrow- or broadly-obovate, spathulate, to linear-lanceolate, toothed or crenate at apex, cuneate or abruptly narrowed at base, margins finely papillate-denticulate. Racemes leaf-opposed, 10-40 mm, rachis and pedicels glabrous or sparsely hairy. Sepals green, 1 x 0.5 mm, glabrous or sparsely hairy. Petals < sepals, white. Stamens 2. Silicles 3-4 x 2-3 mm, ovate, crowded. Style = notch, free from narrow wing, valves glabrous. Seeds 1-1.5 mm, brown, narrow-ovoid.
It is most often confused with winter cress Lepidium didymum L. and L. squamatum Forssk. which have similar, though more strongly pungent, foliage and seed capsules, and grow in much the same, though usually more modified habitats. Both differ from L. flexicaule in that their seed capsules are net-veined and/or covered in warty protuberances, and when they split they come away as two entire halves, never splitting by the valves and never leaving behind a replum.
Flowering occurs from November to January.
Fruiting from December to March.
Mucilaginous seeds are dispersed by attachment and possibly wind and water (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easy from fresh seed. Can be grown from cuttings but these can be tricky to strike. L. flexicaule forms compact mats and the stems die back to the root stock in winter, resprouting in spring. It is less susceptible to diseases than L. oleraceum Sparrm., or L. banksii Kirk. In cultivation L. flexicaule readily hybridises with L. banksii and L. oleraceum, so it should be planted well away from those species. It does best in a permanently damp, fertile soil, in full sun.
Habitat loss through weed encroachment and development, browsing; susceptible to many of the pests and diseases of introduced brassicas, e.g., cabbage white butterfly, aphids, snails, white rust and diamondback moth.
lepidium: Scale-shaped (pods)
Recent collections from the Chatham Islands lack the marginal stem and leaf denticles. Denticles are also decidedly infrequent in Australian material.
Story about rediscovery on the West Coast in Trilepidea Issue 30 (May 2006)
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 25 August 2008. Description subsequently published in de Lange et al. (2013).
References and further reading
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
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Lepidium flexicaule Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/lepidium-flexicaule/ (Date website was queried)