Leptinella squalida subsp. squalida
Cotula squalida (Hook.f.) Hook.f.
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 (North-West Nelson only) and Chatham Islands. In North Island uncommon north of the Waikato.
Mostly coastal or inland (0-300 m a.s.l.), in open turf, on coastal cliffs, in coastal turf, along river beds or in open grassland and open, damp places within shrubland and lowland forest. In some urban areas reported as as a lawn weed. Often found growing with Hydrocotyle heteromeria A.Rich. and H. microphylla A.Cunn. Some forms of L. squalida subsp. squalida have also been gathered from subalpine to alpine habitats in the central North Island.
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, widely creeping, fast-growing perennial herb forming dense monospecific turfs or intermingled with other turf species. Rhizomes at or near soil surface, green, dark green to red-green, flexible, pilose hairy; branches usually single at flowering nodes; leaves in two rows, single at apex, 5-30 mm apart. Short shoots alternate on both sides of the rhizomes with distant leaves. Roots slender and weak, up to 0.8 mm diameter. Leaves 1-pinnatifid, 5-10(-20) x 3-20 mm; blade 4-6(-10) mm, bright green or yellow-green with basal 1/3-1/2 brown-pigmented and/or the proximal pinnae, broadly elliptic or obovate, fleshy to membranous, sparsely pilose hairy to moderately pilose hairy or glabrous, midrib raised along majority of ventral surface; pinnae 6-20 pairs, oblong to elliptic, large pinnae suborbicular to obovate, usually equal in length and width, close-set, overlapping; distal pinnae not cut to rhachis, closer together and set at a narrower angle to the rhachis than the middle pinnae, often overlapping; middle and proximal pinnae cut to rhachis, usually distant, but often overlapping; teeth usually present on pinnae with up to 10 per pinna, oblong to acute. Peduncles borne on rhizomes, sparsely pilose hairy, usually longer than leaves, 10-60 mm, ebracteate or with 1 simple bract. Pistillate capitula 3-5 mm elongating to 10 mm diameter in fruit; surface convex; involucre urceolate; involucral bracts 15-40, subequally 3- or more seriate, green, broadly elliptic, somewhat villous, with a broad brown-tipped scarious margin; inner bracts elongating after anthesis to enclose subglobose fruiting head; florets 15-70, 2.2.5 mm long, yellow-green, curved, corolla slightly longer than wide, dentition unequal. Staminate heads 4-7 mm diameter; involucre hemispherical; involucral bracts 5-10, uni- or biseriate, not extending after anthesis; florets more numerous. Cypsela 1.9 x 0.9 mm, initially pale, chartaceous and wrinkled, maturing brown and smooth.
Differs from L. squalida subsp. mediana (D.G.Lloyd) D.G.Lloyd et C.J.Webb by its less divided leaves with the distal pinnae not cut to the rhachis, close-set and positioned at a narrower angle to the rhachis than the middle pinnae. It is best distinguished from L. dioica by the sparsely hairy leaves whose basal pinnae are distinctively brown-pigmented.
August - February
September - June
Papery cypselae are dispersed by wind and possibly attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easy from rooted pieces and tolerant of a wide range of soil, sun and shade conditions. An excellent lawn cover. Very variable, so could benefit from cultivar selection.
Not Threatened but scarce north of Waikato.
leptinella: From the Greek word leptos (meaning slender, thin or delicate), referring to the ovary
Where To Buy
Commonly available from retail plant and specialist native plant nurseries
Many botanists regard the very different, cytologically distinct subsp. mediana (D.G.Lloyd) D.G.Lloyd et C.J.Webb to be a distinct species
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 31 August 2006. Description from Lloyd (1972) - as Cotula squalida subsp. squalida.
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 squalida subsp. squalida Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/leptinella-squalida-subsp-squalida/ (Date website was queried)