Chionochloa rubra subsp. cuprea


Chionochloa: snow grass
rubra: red
cuprea: From the Latin cupreus 'copper', meaning 'coppery'

Common Name(s)

copper tussock

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


Chionochloa rubra subsp. cuprea Connor



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



None (first described in 1991)


Endemic. New Zealand: South Island (North Canterbury and south and west to Fiordland) and Stewart Island.


Coastal to alpine. Inhabiting bogs and tussock grassland where it may be the dominant tussock


Tall, slender, red tussock with crowded, erect, stiff, rush-like leaves. Leaf-sheath to 300 mm, dark brown, keeled, incurving, remaining entire, inter-ribs with minute hairs sometimes glabrous, margin separating and coiling, apical tuft of hairs to 3 mm. Ligule to 1 mm. Leaf-blade to 1 m long and 1.2 mm diameter, persisting on sheath, acicular rush-like, splitting longitudinally, keel hollow, underside glabrous but infrequently with long hairs near base, prickle-teeth towards apex, upper surface with dense wefts of long hairs at base, extending up leaf-blade often with short hairs as well, papillae or prickle-teeth; margin with long hairs below, prickle-teeth above. Culm to 1.5 m, internodes glabrous, sheath glabrous. Inflorescence to 45 cm, open on pulvinate branches, glabrous except for long hairs at branch axils and short stiff hairs below spikelets, rarely becoming scabrid above. Spikelets of up to 9 florets. Glumes glabrous, acute, infrequently awned, adjacent lemma lobes, lower to 12 mm, 1-3-5-nerved, upper to 14 mm, 3-5-7-nerved. Lemma to 6 mm; hairs dense on margin less so in internerves, usually absent or sparse elsewhere, < sinus; lateral lobes to 7 mm including awn to 3.5 mm, infrequently long triangular-acute; central awn to 13 mm from twisting column to 3 mm. Palea to 8 mm. Callus to 1.5 mm, hairs to 4 mm. Rachilla to 0.75 mm. Lodicules to 1 mm. Anthers to 5 mm. Ovary to 1 mm; stigma-styles to 4 mm. Seeds to 3.5 mm

Similar Taxa

Morphologically distinguished from the rest of the Chionochloa rubra Zotov complex by the entire leaf-sheath and other minor floral differences


October - December


November - April

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed and the division of whole plants. However, can be slow growing and dislikes warm, humid climates and drought. Though once established it can take plenty of abuse. The reddish leaves are especially attractive.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 42

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Description modified from Edgar and Connor (2000)

References and further reading

Edgar, E.; Connor, H.E. 2000: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. V. Grasses. Christchurch, Manaaki Whenua Press. 650 pp.

This page last updated on 15 Aug 2014