Leptinella dioica


Leptinella dioica


Leptinella: From the Greek word leptos (meaning slender, thin or delicate), referring to the ovary
dioica: two plants

Common Name(s)

Shore cotula

Current Threat Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Previous Threat Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Leptinella dioica Hook.f.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native


Cotula dioica (Hook.f.) Hook.f., Cotula dioica (Hook.f.) Hook.f. subsp. dioica, Cotula dioica var. crenatifolia Kirk, Cotula obscura Kirk, Cotula dioica var. obscura (Kirk) Cheeseman, Leptinella dioica Hook.f. subsp. dioica, Cotula dioica subsp. monoica D.G.Lloyd, Leptinella dioica subsp. monoica (D.G.Lloyd) D.G.Lloyd et C.J.Webb


Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands. Not known from Northland or Fiordland.


Coastal and inland up to 1000 m a.s.l.. In the northern part of its range usually on the margins of saltmarshes but further south extending well inland in seepages and permanently open, damp turfs.


Dioecious or monoecious, creeping, somewhat fleshy perennial herb of usually wet coastal habitats. Rhizomes at or near soil surface, green, dark green to purple-green, pliant, sparsely to densely pilose hairy, pale, wiry and glabrous if buried; branches uncommon, usually single at flowering nodes; leaves in two rows, single at the apex, 3-30 mm apart. Short shoots alternate, with up to 5 clustered leaves, occasionally converting to rhizomes with more distant leaves. Roots slender and weak, up to 0.8 mm diam. Leaves variable in size, shape and divisions, entire, simple, to incised-pinnatifid or pinnatifid, 7-130 x 3-20 mm; blade 5-70(-90) mm, lanceolate, narrowly to broadly oblong, elliptic, oblanceolate or suborbicular, fleshy, light green, green, wine-red or glaucous, usually without dark pigment but sometimes leaf divisions heavily brown or pink-pigmented, more or less glabrous, glandular punctate, midrib not raised on ventral surface, rarely entire, otherwise the lobes, pinnae or teeth, in 4-12(-30) pairs, distant, close-set or overlapping, oblong to orbicular; proximal lobes, pinnae or teeth cut to rhachis, sinuses of distal lobes usually not reaching rhachis, sometimes cut only 1.5 to rhachis at widest part of leaf; teeth often absent but sometimes up to 6 per lobe or pinna, on the distal and outer margins, small triangular, obtuse or rounded, often apiculate. Peduncles sparsely to densely villous on rhizomes, about equal to leaves in length, 10-60(-80) mm, ebracteate or bearing 1 simple bract. Pistillate heads 2-10 mm, up to 12 mm diameter in fruit; surface convex; involucre urceolate; involucral bracts 10-30, subequally 3- or more seriate, broadly elliptic, green, glabrous or sparsely villous, with a wide, usually brown-tipped, scarious margin; inner bracts elongating after anthesis to enclose subglobose fruiting head; florets 10-80 (or more), 2-5 mm long, curved, yellow-green; corolla slightly longer than wide, dentition unequal. Staminate capitula 3-8 mm diameter, involucre hemispherical, bracts 5-10, subequally uni- or biseriate, not growing after anthesis, florets more numerous. Bisexual heads mostly staminate. Cypsela up to 1.9 x 1 mm, initially pale and chartaceous, maturing brown and smooth, slightly compressed, unwrinkled.

Similar Taxa

Recognised by the glabrous leaves which are usually simple, with the lobes, pinnae or teeth cut less than half way to the rhachis. The leaves are usually without pigment except for the apices of the lobes, pinnae or teeth. It is most likely to be confused with L. squalida Hook.f. subsp. squalida but that plant has leaves pinnately divided more than half way to the rhachis, and the basal pinnae are always darkly pigmented.


August - January

Main Flower Colour


Other Flower Colour



October - June

Propagation Technique

Very easy from rooted pieces. An excellent ground cover and ideal for lawns which are seasonally damp or somewhat poorly drained. Highly variable, and the numerous wild forms could provide an excellent source for future cultivar selections


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 260

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Commonly available from retail and specialist native plant garden centres but usually incorrectly identified.

Notes on taxonomy

NZPCN does not regard Leptinella dioica subsp. monoica (D.G.Lloyd) D.G.Lloyd et C.J.Webb as distinct from L. dioica s.s.

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

This page last updated on 3 Jun 2015

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