Aciphylla aurea


Aciphylla: From the Latin acicula 'needle' and the Greek phyllum 'leaf', meaning needle-leaf.
aurea: golden yellow

Common Name(s)

Golden spaniard, golden speargrass

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

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 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Aciphylla aurea W.R.B.Oliv.



Brief Description

Robust yellowish-green golden large spikey clumps to 1 m with a tall robust very spikey flower head

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 Herbs other than Composites


Montane to low alpine well-drained or arid sites including rocky areas, dry grassland and tussock grassland. 300-1500 m.


Very robust tufted yellowish-green herb to 1.5 m tall when in flower. Rosettes single or multiple, to 1 m diameter. Leaves many, stout, 1-pinnate to irregularly 2-pinnate (sometimes only 1 secondary pinna developed), to 70 cm long; sheath thick with thin margins, yellow or yellowish-green, 25 mm wide at apex; stipules stout, to 27 cm long x 5-8 mm wide, tapering, pungent; petioles c. 10-20 cm long x 10-16 mm wide; margins finely serrulate on cartilaginous margin; internodes (inter-pinna spacing) 5-6 cm long; primary pinnae 2-4 pairs, spaced, flat, striate, midrib obscure, c. 20 cm long x 7 mm wide, abrubtly narrowing to pungent point; secondary pinnae little shorter, pungent. Flowering stem of male and female similar (female narrower and darker), stout, ribbed, 80 cm or more long, bracted along most of length; bracts +/- erect in male, spreading in female; lower bracts without flowers, yellow; lower bract sheaths to 8 x 1.5 cm tapering to c. 9 mm wide, thin, smooth; lower bract stipules to 8 cm long x 2-3 mm wide, acicular; lower bract lamina usually simple, sometimes bifid, to 22 cm long x 4 mm wide, acicular. Umbels of male plants distributed along peduncle; involucral bracts linear, longer than rays. Umbels of female plants on peduncles up to 15 cm long; umbellules crowded on short rays; involucral bracts linear. Fruit of two mericarps; mericarps oblong-elliptic to elliptic, (3.5-)4.0-6.0(-6.5) mm, with 3-4 narrowly winged ribs and 1-2 reduced to low ridges, vittae obscured

Similar Taxa

Similar to Aciphylla colensoi which has much shorter stipules and crowded pinnae on leaves and also A. horrida which has usually 1-pinnate leaves and inflorescences very broad at the base



Flower Colours





Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 22

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family





Description adapted by Mike Thorsen from Allan (1961), Mark and Adams (1995), Webb and Simpson (2001) and Wilson (1996).

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand. Government Printer, Wellington;

Mark, A.F; Adams, N.M. 1995. New Zealand alpine plants, 2nd Edition. Godwit Publishing, Auckland;

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

Webb, C.J. &  Simpson, M.J.A. 2001. Seeds of NZ gymnosperms and dicotyledons. Manuka Press, Christchurch;

Wilson, H.D. 1996. Wild plants of Mount Cook National Park. Manuka Press, Christchurch

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014