Austroderia toetoe

Common Name(s)


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


Austroderia toetoe (Zotov) N.P.Barker et H.P.Linder



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



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.

Similar Taxa

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


October - March

Propagation Technique

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.

Chromosome No.

2n = 90

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Florets are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Uncommon in cultivation and generally too robust for urban gardens. Occasionally offered by specialist native plant nurseries.


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 October 2003. Description adapted from Edgar & Connor (2000).

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