Leptinella dispersa subsp. dispersa
Cotula dispersa D.G.Lloyd, Cotula dispersa D.G.Lloyd subsp. dispersa
Vascular – Native
Herbs - Dicotyledonous composites
2n = 52
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 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: DP, Sp
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon
2004 | Sparse
Endemic. North, South, Stewart and Campbell Islands. On the main islands present from Te Aupouri (Mt Camel) to Southland.
Lowland, usually coastal, on stream and lake margins or on the margins of freshwater swamps and wetlands bordering saltmarsh, sometimes in deep hollows or on shaded cliff faces. On occasion this species has been found on cattle pugged swampy ground bordering saltmarshes. Intolerant of much shading and grass competition it favours open sites. In the southern North Island it often grows with L. tenella (A.Cunn.) D.G.Lloyd et C.Webb.
Dioecious or monoecious (Wellington Region only), widely creeping, perennial herb forming loose patches or compact turf depending on local conditions. Rhizomes at or near soil surface, green, dark red-green or purple, pliant, sparsely villous; branches usually single at flowering nodes; leaves in two rows, single at apex, 5-20 mm apart. Short shoots alternate on both sides of rhziomes with distant leaves. Roots white, slender up to 0.3 mm diameter. Leaves 1-pinnatifid, variable in size, submembranous, 30-50 x 4-8(-10) mm; lamina obovate to narrowly obovate, bright green, usually with the basal pinnae brown to red-brown pigmented, glabrous, midrib not raised on upper surface; pinnae 4-10 pairs, distant or distal ones overlapping, cut to rhachis, elliptic or broadly-elliptic; teeth absent or with 1-2 on larger pinnae or up to 10 on all pinnae, obvious, confined to distal and outer margins, sometimes extending partly onto proximal margin, small, cut 1/3 across pinna, triangular, or oblong, acute or acuminate. Peduncles on rhizomes, short but equal to leaves in length, 2-30 mm long, ebracteate, pilose-hairy. Captiula 2-3 mm diameter (pistillate capitula 4 mm in fruit); surface convex. Pistillate capitula involucre urceolate; involucral bracts 8-22 in 2 or more unequal rows, broadly elliptic, green, glabrescent, margins scarious, brown; inner involucral bracts extending in length to enclose the subglobose fruiting head; florets 10-30, 1.5 mm long, not exceeding involucral bracts, curved, yellow-green, corolla slightly longer than wide; with unequal teeth. Staminate capitula with hemispherical involucre; involucral bracts 5-8 in 1-2 subequal rows, not growing after anthesis; florets more numerous. Bisexual heads intermediate, with sex-types varying in proportion from capitula to capitula. Cypsela 1.3-1.6 x 0.6-0.8 mm, brown, slightly compressed, at first chartaceous maturing smooth.
Most likely to be confused with L. tenella (A.Cunn.) D.G.Lloyd et C.Webb, with which it often grows (especially around the Wellington Region). As a rule L. dispersa is dioecious while L. tenella is monoecious, but around the Wellington area L. dispersa may be monoecious as well. Irrespective, it can be distinguished from L. tenella by its usually smaller and narrower leaves which are typically dark brown to red-brown pigmented near the base, pinnae which overlap and either lack teeth or have teeth confined to the larger pinnae (and these rarely extend around the pinnae), and by the longer involucral bracts which continue to grow in length after anthesis so enclosing the fruiting head.
September - January
October - June
Papery cypselae are dispersed by wind and possibly attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easy from rooted pieces, a very attractive plant ideal for damp soils. Prefers a sunny aspect but will grow in dappled light. An excellent lawn cover on poorly drained ground.
This species has a naturally sporadic distribution, and sometimes can be locally common. It is not nationally threatened but some populations are at risk from land reclaimation, wetland drainge, and competition from weeds
leptinella: From the Greek word leptos (meaning slender, thin or delicate), referring to the ovary
Where To Buy
Occasionally available from specialist native plant nurseries
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 31 August 2006. Description from Lloyd (1972) - as Cotula dispersa subsp. dispersa.
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
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Leptinella dispersa subsp. dispersa Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/leptinella-dispersa-subsp-dispersa/ (Date website was queried)