Leptinella filiformis


Leptinella: From the Greek word leptos (meaning slender, thin or delicate), referring to the ovary
filiformis: From the Latin filum 'thread' and forma 'shape', meaning thread-shaped

Common Name(s)

slender button daisy

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Critical

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 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Critical


2012 - CD, EW
2009 - CD, DP, RR


Leptinella filiformis (Hook.f.) D.G.Lloyd et C.Webb EW,



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 - Composites


Cotula filiformis Hook.f.


Endemic. South Island, with records from the upper Awatere, Hanmer Plain, and adjacent Balmoral forest. Apparently extinct in the wild at all these locations


A species of lowland to montane (300-600m a.s.l.) basins, plains and valley floors where it grows in grasslands, and open shrubland.


Rhizomatous, monoecious, perennial herb forming a diffuse turf. Rhizomes at soil surface, slender, <1 mm diam., brown, pilose hairy; branching 1-3 times at flowering nodes. Leaves 3-many, clustered at the apex, older leaves more evenly spaced. Lamina 1-pinnatifid, 3-20 x 2-4 mm; blade 0.2-15 mm, oblong to obovate, coriaceous, dull green usually with brown to purple-brown pigmentation toward base, glabrous; pinnae 4-10 pairs, not overlapping, obovate, teeth 0(-3) on distal margins of proximal pinnae. Peduncles 10-30 mm, slender, wiry, pilose hairy. Capitula 2-3 mm diam. white, surface convex, involucre outspread; phyllaries 8-14, in 2 rows; suborbicular, hairy with wide brown, scarious margins. Pistillate and staminate florets 15-50 in 2 or more rows, c.1 mm long, straight; corolla length 2x width. Achenes 0.85 x 0.5 mm, ovoid, pale brown.

Similar Taxa

Closely allied to L. minor Hook.f., from which it mainly differs by its consistently smaller state. Leaf dentition is usually absent or infrequent, while L. minor always has toothed leaves, the rhizomes of L. filiformis are 1 mm rather than 2 mm (or more) diam., whilst the capitula are2-3 rather than 4-6 mm diam. nrDNA ITS sequences scarcely distinguish L. filiformis from L. minor.


Mainly summer but sporadic throughout year

Flower Colours



Mainly summer to autumn

Propagation Technique

Once believed extinct this species was rediscovered in 1998 in a lawn at Hanmer Springs. All cultivated material now known stems from that discovery. Easy from rooted pieces and excellent in seasonally dry, poorly drained soils or shaded ground under trees. Dislikes permanantly wet ground and strong sun. An excellent lawn plant, whose small white flower heads are produced in profusion thus making it very attractive


Literature records suggest L. filiformis was once locally common. Certainly when rabbits were abundant it flourished in the open ground they created. By the 1980s it was believed extinct. Plants were rediscovered in 1998 in a lawn at Hanmer Springs, where by late 1999 they were extinct due to redevelopment of the hotel grounds. Luckily plants were sampled from there in February 1999 and these have been widely distributed to plant nurseries, private gardens and Universities throughout New Zealand. Stock from those gatherings has been used to reintroduce the species to protected sites but it still remains very uncommon and vulnerable to loss.

Chromosome No.

2n = 52

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Papery cypselae are dispersed by wind and possibly attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Cultural Use/Importance

The distinction between this species and L. minor Hook.f. is slight. Leptinella minor is usually regarded as a Banks Peninsula endemic (though herbarium specimens suggest it once grew on the Canterbury Plains).


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 31 August 2006. Description from Lloyd (1972).

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