Chatham Island button daisy, mutton bird plant
Cotula featherstonii (F.Muell.) Hook.f., Cotula renwickii Cockayne
Vascular – Native
Dicotyledonous Herbs - Composites
2n = 54
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 – Relict | Qualifiers: CD, IE, RR
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | At Risk – Relict | Qualifiers: CD, IE, RR
2004 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
Endemic to the Chatham Islands where it was formerly widespread on all islands. Now found only at Kaingaroa and near Ocean Bay on main island, and on SE (Rangitira), Little Mangere, the Pyramid, Forty-Fours (Motuhara), Star Keys, the Sisters, Western Reef and various rock stacks (collectively the Murumuru) beside Pitt Island.
Peaty ground near coast; usually growing in association with burrowing or nesting seabirds. But on Western Reef, growing in rock crevices enriched with nutrients imported by seals and non-burrowing seabirds.
Monoecious, woody to subwoody, robust, grey-green, glaucous, yellow-green to dark green, leafy shrub up to 1.5 x 2 m. Stems 1-many, at first erect, then spreading, rarely decumbent, up to 20 mm diameter; initially fleshy-succulent, green or orange-green with smooth glabrous to puberulent surfaces, heavily marked by old leaf scars; branches clustered, 3-4(-6) emerging from a flowering node and the nodes immediately behind depending on season and growth conditions; leaves densely clustered toward branch apex, older ones retained up to 30 mm apart, long persistent along branches beneath actively growing portion. Roots stout, orange to white, up to 2 mm diameter, arising from stem base and on occasion where branches touch the ground. Leaves simple, subsessile, 15-60 x 6-25 mm; lamina broadly obovate, slightly tapering to an ill-defined petiole, somewhat crisply fleshy or membranous depending on conditions, grey-green, glaucous, yellow-green to dark green, usually finely velutinous or puberulent, sometimes glabrous (or nearly so), hairs fine, soft, suberect, often falling with leaf maturation, midrib and principal veins usually evident on both surfaces; margin with 3 shallow obtuse triangular teeth or lobes just before apex, or entire. Peduncles finely velutinous to puberulent, shorter than leaves, 5-20 mm, ebracteate or with 1-2 small leaf-like bracts just below capitula. Capitula 10 mm diameter, surface hemispherical; involucre hemispherical; involucral bracts 10-18, unequally uni- or biseriate, broadly elliptic, fleshy, green or shades thereof, with 1-3 brown veins, sparsely pilose hairy to velutinous or glabrous, with a narrow hyaline scarious margins near apex only; pistillate florets 200, 6-seriate, 2 mm long, straight, white, cream, yellow, yellow-green or green; corolla 3x as long as wide, blunt, dentition equal; staminate florets up to 130. Cypsela 1.5 x 0.7 mm, chocolate-brown to black, compressed, without wrinkles, striated with 2 lateral, 2-4 anterior and 2-4 posterior pale ribs.
Spring and summer.
Late summer and autumn.
Papery cypselae are dispersed by wind and possibly attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Can be grown from fresh seed and cuttings but difficult to maintain in cultivation. Dislikes humidity and cannot tolerate long periods of drought. Even well established plants are inclined to sudden collapse in times of stress
This species is seriously threatened at Kaingaroa on the main Chatham Island by loss of habitat through erosion; weed invasion; browsing mammals; loss of seabird activity through predation and disturbance; declining soil fertility; indiscriminate collection; storm damage; and invertebrate attack. Only one plant is known from near Ocean Bay. Beyond Chatham Island, L. featherstonii is abundant, and at times the dominant plant on predator-free offshore islands dominated by nesting sea birds such as albatross and mollymawks. Low levels of decline have been recorded from some of these islands but this may be natural
leptinella: From the Greek word leptos (meaning slender, thin or delicate), referring to the ovary
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
The woody shrub habit is unusual in the genus, however it does seem to be correctly placed in Leptinella.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 31 August 2006. Description from Lloyd (1972) - as Cotula featherstonii.
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 featherstonii Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/leptinella-featherstonii/ (Date website was queried)