Carmichaelia vexillata


Carmichaelia: after Carmichael, a botanist

Common Name(s)

dwarf broom

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Declining
2004 - Serious Decline


2012 - DP, RF
2009 - RF


Carmichaelia vexillata Heenan



Brief Description

Rare low growing leafless shrub consisting of erect flattened yellow-green branches with a blunt orange or red tip. Branches 1.5-3 wide, grooved, tip rounded. Flowers pea-like, pink with darker streaks, in clusters. Fruit a dry sharp-tipped pod with many hard seeds and which does not split open.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


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.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs




Eastern South Island to South Canterbury and Otago.


Recent moraines, alluvium, river terraces, terrace risers, disturbed soils, and soils derived from schist parent material.


Dwarf, spreading broom, up to 15cm tall, 40cm wide. Stems stout, curved upwards or horizontal. Branchlets linear, 20-95mm long, 1.5-4mm wide, finely grooved, may be sparsely hairy when young, hairless at maturity; green-yellow, tips often red in winter. Simple leaves on seedlings and occasionally on mature plants, 4-7.5mm long, 2-4.5mm wide, with scattered hairs on both surfaces; leaves on flattened stems usually reduced to a hairless triangular scale. Flowers 4-5.5mm long, 2-2.5mm wide, in clusters of 2-3; purple with whitish margins, sometimes cream with purple veins; main petal upright and taller than lower petals, sepals hairless, tip of sepal long and pointed. Pod oblong, compressed, dark brown to black or light grey. Seeds 4-13 per pod, oblong, yellow to olive green with black mottling.

Similar Taxa

Carmichaelia monroi, C. astonii, C. corrugata. C. vexillata has thin stems. The main flower petal is upright and taller than the two lower united petals. In C. monroi the main petal is smaller than the lower petals. C. astonii has hairy stems and is larger overall. C. corrugata has underground stems.


October to March

Flower Colours



November to May

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed and semi hardwood cuttings. Dislikes humid climates.


At threat from weeds and browsing animals which inhibit flowering and fruit set. However, it must be recognised that without browsing animals many of the habitats occupied by this broom would vanish due to weed regrowth. This species survival now requires a delicate balance of allowing some browsing to reduce weeds but not too much which will damage or even kill Carmichaelia.

Chromosome No.

2n = 32

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seeds are possibly dispersed by wind and granivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 August 2003. Description based on Heenan (1995)

References and further reading

Heenan, P. B. 1995: A taxonomic revision of Carmichaelia (Fabaceae-Galegeae) in New Zealand (part I). New Zealand Journal of Botany 33: 455-475.

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 9 Dec 2015