New Zealand plants have long been referred to Spinifex hirstutus Labill. a species that is now considered quite unrelated and confined to Western Australia
Vascular – Native
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 = 18
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 | Qualifiers: SO
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Indigenous. Common throughout New Zealand. Also present in Australia
Strictly coastal where it is confined to sandy beaches. This is the main dune forming indigenous plant in New Zealand. It is usually found at the front of actively accumulating foredunes. Its does not tolerate stable dune systems and does not compete well with other introduced dune plants.
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).
UPL: Obligate Upland
Rarely is a hydrophyte, almost always in uplands (non-wetlands).
Stoloniferous, often forming colonies stretching to 80-(160) m along sand dunes, with much-branched, knotted, rope-like, hard, creeping culms. Leaf-sheath leathery, strongly-nerved, silky-hairy. Ligule minute, ciliate, hairs very dense to 6 mm. Leaf-blade c.300 mm, inrolled and c.1.5 mm diameter, leathery, strongly nerved, silky-villous. Culm 2.5-6.0 mm diameter, internodes glabrous, silky-villous below inflorescence. Dioecious*: male inflorescence with numerous pedunculate racemes, 0-120 mm, bearing up to 15 silky-villous spikelets, each terminated by a short bristle c.10 mm; raceme clusters subtended by spathaceous bracts ¡Ü raceme. Male spikelets 100 mm; glumes ¡Ü spikelet, 7-9-nerved; lemmas similar to glumes but less villous, 5-nerved; each floret with 2 emarginate lodicules 0.6 x 0.3 mm, and 3 pollen-filled anthers to 6 mm. Female inflorescence very conspicuous, globular, appearing spiny with strict bracts to 150 mm, disarticulating from culm at maturity and wheeling along sand; spikelets solitary, hidden at base of bract, 15-18 mm; glumes equal to spikelet, 5-7-nerved, silky-villous; lemmas shorter, less villous, rather chartaceous, 3-5-nerved; lower floret sterile; upper floret female, larger, with 2 lodicules c.1 x 1 mm, and 3 stamens with stout filaments bearing white, pollen less anthers up to 1.5 mm; ovary 1.5-2.0 mm, stigma-styles 17-20 mm; seed free, c. 4.5-5.0 x 2.5 mm. * but stems with both male and female flowers are known
None - the distinctive softly spiny female seed heads, which disarticulate and are usually seen rolling down the beach readily identify this species.
September - December
November - May
Easily grown from fresh seed (which is best). Can be grown from layered pieces but often slow to start and fickle. Does best when planted directly into sand dunes - not a good plant for the average garden.
Where To Buy
Sold by a number of specialist native plant nurseries. Popular plant for dune restoration.
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (June 2005). Description adapted from Edgar and Connor (2000).
References and further reading
Edgar, E.; Connor H.E. 2000: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. 5. Landcare Research, Christchurch.