Current Threat Status
2012 - Not Threatened
Previous Threat Status
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened
Austroderia toetoe (Zotov) N.P.Barker et H.P.Linder
Vascular - Native
Cortaderia toetoe Zotov
Endemic. Confined to the North Island where it grows from about Carters Beach (western Waikato) south to Wellington. There are reports of it from the Waitakere Ranges that require further investigation. It has been planted and has sparingly naturalised on Waiheke Island. Not naturally occurring in the Tongariro-Taupo region on the Volcanic Plateau, but has naturalised from plantings e.g. on the Pihanga Saddle.
Common in freshwater swamps and wet places from sea level to lower montane habitats. Often growing in association with flax/harakeke (Phormium tenax).
Stout, tussock-forming grass up to 4 m tall when in flower. Leaf sheath glabrous, ivory with green midrib, copiously covered in white wax. Ligule 4 mm. Collar dark brown, upper surface clothed in short hairs. Leaf blade 2(-3) m x 3 cm, straw-yellow, light-green, rarely dark-green, undersides long hairy toward margins, upper surface with a thick weft of hairs at base, otherwise minutely hairy through, and rather harsh due to numerous prickle-teeth. Culm up to 4 m, inflorescence portion up to 1 m tall, stiff, erect, densely plumose. Spikelets numerous, 25 mm with 2-3 florets per spikelet. Glumes equal, 25 mm, > florets. Lemma 10 mm, 3-nerved, scabrid. Palea 6.5 mm, keels ciliate. Callus hairs 1.5 mm. Rachilla 0.5 mm. Flowers either perfect or female. Anthers of perfect flowers 4.8 mm, in females 2.8 mm. Ovary of perfect flowers 1 mm, stigma -styles 1.8 mm; female flowers with ovary 1.3 mm, stigma-style 3.5 mm. Seed 2.5-3 mm.
Easily identified by the stout, erect, densely plumose inflorescences, and ivory leaf sheaths. Separated from South American Pampas grasses (Cortaderia species) by their spring or summer flowering, rather than autumn flowering habit, waxy leaf sheaths, and by the dead leaves which fold longitudinally, and disarticulate in their entirety - the South American species curl up toward the leaf base, ultimately decaying to a state resembling wood shavings. Pampas grasses can always be distinguished by their brittle leaves with a prominent midrib - fold a leaf across and it snaps or can be torn easily. Austroderia leaves have multiple ribs and cannot be torn across easily.
November - February
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
October - March
Easily grown from fresh seed (as a revegation exercise ripe seed heads can be pinned to soil surface, and if kept damp, soon germinate) and division of established plants.
Abundant and not threatened. Often naturalising in suitable habitats.
2n = 90
Where To Buy
Uncommon in cultivation and generally too robust for urban gardens. Occasionally offered by specialist native plant nurseries.
References and further reading
Edgar, E.; Connor, H.E. 2000: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. V. Grasses. Manaaki Whenua Whenua Press, Christchurch.
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
This page last updated on 4 Dec 2018