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Celmisia: Apparently named after Kelmis, one of Idaean Dactyls, a group of skilled mythical beings
associated with the Mother Goddess Rhea in Greek mythology. Kelmis, whose name means
‘casting’, was a blacksmith and childhood friend of Zeus, son of Rhea and later king of the
gods. In Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’, Kelmis is described as offending Zeus who turned him into
adamant so he was as hard as a tempered blade
lyallii: Named after David Lyall (1817-1895), 19th century Scottish naturalist and surgeon with the Royal Navy, who explored Antarctica, New Zealand, the Arctic and North America and was a lifelong friend of Sir Joseph Hooker.
Current Threat Status
2012 - Not Threatened
Previous Threat Status
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened
Celmisia lyallii Hook.f.
Vascular - Native
Endemic. South Island: widespread in drier sites so found mainly east of the main divide.
Montane to subalpine open grassland, herbfield, fellfield
Tufted rigid herb with short pseudo-stem arising from us. simple stock. Leaves rigid, coriaceous, narrow-ensiform tapering regularly to pungent apex; lamina 20-60 × 6-9 mm; upper surface glabrous, very finely striate to smooth; lower surface strongly grooved, densely clad in thin appressed white satiny tomentum to almost glabrous (in different plants); margins slightly recurved, entire. Sheath abruptly widened from somewhat constricted lamina-base, 30-80 × 10-15 mm, thin, grooved, clad in appressed white satiny tomentum. Scape 15-36 mm long, rather slender, white with ± floccose tomentum, ± concealed by bract-sheaths. Bracts numerous, crowded; lowest leaf-like, to 60 cmm long, diminishing in size toward scape apex, uppermost c.10 mm long, forming a pseudo-involucre. Capitula 25-50 mm diameter; involucral bracts linear-subulate, rigid, indurated, ± 20 mm long, midrib prominent. Ray-florets very slender, 12-14 mm long, white; limb hardly wider than tube, 4-toothed. Disk-florets 6-7 mm long, tubular, lobes triangular. Achenes 2-3 mm long, compressed-cylindric, strongly grooved; hairs minute, stiff, very minutely barbellate
The dry land equivalent of Celmisia armstrongii and C. petriei. From Celmisia petriei it is distinguished by the very rigid, narrow leaves with pungent apices, the leaf has only a single prominent midrib rather than a stout, parallel pair of veins either side of an obscure central midrib. from Celmisia armstrongii, C. lyallii differs by its very pungent (sharp tipped leaves). and by the absence of a broad yellow band either side of the midrib on the upper leaf surface.
November - February
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
December - April
Easily grown in a shaded site, planted within a permanently moist, free draining, acidic soil. Dislikes humidity and will not tolerate drying out. Best grown from fresh seed which should be sown immediately or stratified in a fridge or freezer for 1-3 months
2n = 108
Where To Buy
Occasionally available from specialist native plant nurseries.
References and further reading
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 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309
This page last updated on 15 Aug 2014