Cotula dioica (Hook.f.) Hook.f., Cotula dioica (Hook.f.) Hook.f. subsp. dioica, Cotula dioica var. crenatifolia Kirk, Cotula obscura Kirk, Cotula dioica var. obscura (Kirk) Cheeseman, Leptinella dioica Hook.f. subsp. dioica, Cotula dioica subsp. monoica D.G.Lloyd, Leptinella dioica subsp. monoica (D.G.Lloyd) D.G.Lloyd et C.J.Webb
Vascular – Native
Herbs - Dicotyledonous 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.
2n = 260
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. North, South and Stewart Islands. Not known from Northland or Fiordland.
Coastal and inland up to 1000 m a.s.l.. In the northern part of its range usually on the margins of saltmarshes but further south extending well inland in seepages and permanently open, damp turfs.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
Commonly occurs as either a hydrophyte or non-hydrophyte (non-wetlands).
Dioecious or monoecious, creeping, somewhat fleshy perennial herb of usually wet coastal habitats. Rhizomes at or near soil surface, green, dark green to purple-green, pliant, sparsely to densely pilose hairy, pale, wiry and glabrous if buried; branches uncommon, usually single at flowering nodes; leaves in two rows, single at the apex, 3-30 mm apart. Short shoots alternate, with up to 5 clustered leaves, occasionally converting to rhizomes with more distant leaves. Roots slender and weak, up to 0.8 mm diam. Leaves variable in size, shape and divisions, entire, simple, to incised-pinnatifid or pinnatifid, 7-130 x 3-20 mm; blade 5-70(-90) mm, lanceolate, narrowly to broadly oblong, elliptic, oblanceolate or suborbicular, fleshy, light green, green, wine-red or glaucous, usually without dark pigment but sometimes leaf divisions heavily brown or pink-pigmented, more or less glabrous, glandular punctate, midrib not raised on ventral surface, rarely entire, otherwise the lobes, pinnae or teeth, in 4-12(-30) pairs, distant, close-set or overlapping, oblong to orbicular; proximal lobes, pinnae or teeth cut to rhachis, sinuses of distal lobes usually not reaching rhachis, sometimes cut only 1.5 to rhachis at widest part of leaf; teeth often absent but sometimes up to 6 per lobe or pinna, on the distal and outer margins, small triangular, obtuse or rounded, often apiculate. Peduncles sparsely to densely villous on rhizomes, about equal to leaves in length, 10-60(-80) mm, ebracteate or bearing 1 simple bract. Pistillate heads 2-10 mm, up to 12 mm diameter in fruit; surface convex; involucre urceolate; involucral bracts 10-30, subequally 3- or more seriate, broadly elliptic, green, glabrous or sparsely villous, with a wide, usually brown-tipped, scarious margin; inner bracts elongating after anthesis to enclose subglobose fruiting head; florets 10-80 (or more), 2-5 mm long, curved, yellow-green; corolla slightly longer than wide, dentition unequal. Staminate capitula 3-8 mm diameter, involucre hemispherical, bracts 5-10, subequally uni- or biseriate, not growing after anthesis, florets more numerous. Bisexual heads mostly staminate. Cypsela up to 1.9 x 1 mm, initially pale and chartaceous, maturing brown and smooth, slightly compressed, unwrinkled.
Recognised by the glabrous leaves which are usually simple, with the lobes, pinnae or teeth cut less than half way to the rhachis. The leaves are usually without pigment except for the apices of the lobes, pinnae or teeth. It is most likely to be confused with L. squalida Hook.f. subsp. squalida but that plant has leaves pinnately divided more than half way to the rhachis, and the basal pinnae are always darkly pigmented.
August - January
October - June
Papery cypselae are dispersed by wind and possibly attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Very easy from rooted pieces. An excellent ground cover and ideal for lawns which are seasonally damp or somewhat poorly drained. Highly variable, and the numerous wild forms could provide an excellent source for future cultivar selections
leptinella: From the Greek word leptos (meaning slender, thin or delicate), referring to the ovary
dioica: Two plants
Where To Buy
Commonly available from retail and specialist native plant garden centres but usually incorrectly identified.
Notes on taxonomy
NZPCN does not regard Leptinella dioica subsp. monoica (D.G.Lloyd) D.G.Lloyd et C.J.Webb as distinct from L. dioica s.s.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 31 August 2006. Description from Lloyd (1972) - as Cotula dioica.
References and further reading
Lloyd, D.G. 1972: A revision of the New Zealand, Subantarctic, and South American species of Cotula, section Leptinella. New Zealand Journal of Botany 10: 277-372.
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): Leptinella dioica Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/leptinella-dioica/ (Date website was queried)