Xeronema callistemon f. bracteosa


Xeronema: From the Greek xeros 'dry' and nema 'thread'
callistemon: with a beautiful stamen

Common Name(s)

Poor Knights Lily, Raupo-Taranga

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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 - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - CD, IE, OL, Sp
2009 - OL, IE


Xeronema callistemon f. bracteosa (L.B.Moore) de Lange et E.K.Cameron



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Monocotyledonous Herbs


Xeronema callistemon var. bracteosa L.B.Moore


Endemic. Only known with certainity from the Poor Knights Islands, near Tutukaka, Northland. Xeronema belongs to a newly established family of one genus with two species, the Xeronemataceae.


Rhyolite sea cliffs and rock outcrops. Occasionally in forest on rubble or as an epiphyte on pohtukawa (Metrosideros excelsa). These latter occurrences probably stem from fallen plants captured in trees or resprouting on the forest floor.


Forming huge colonies 1-4 m across. Leaves green to yellow-green, arising from thick rhizomes, and forming flattened fans, 60-150 x 3-5 cm, Dead leaves long persistent, ultimately detached from the frayed base to form a fibrous mass. Inflorescences on green, thick, leafy stems (peduncle) up to 1 m. Racemes 10-60 cm long, aligned vertically on upper side of peduncle. Flowers crowded, numerous. Flower stalks (pedicels) 1-15 mm long, subtended by an initially green translucent leafy bract overtopping the buds until flowering burst. Flowers red, tepals 10-15 mm, outer 3 mm wide, inner 1.5 mm. Stamen filaments twice length of tepals, anthers 4 mm long, pollen tangerine-orange. Ovary 4 x 2 mm, oblong-3-angled, covered with copious nectar. Capsule 9-11 mm. Seeds ovate, 1.6 x 1 mm, black.

Similar Taxa

None in New Zealand. Similar to X. moorei of New Caledonia (the only other species of the genus, and family), which differs in some floral and capsule details, and by the seed size and shape. X. callistemon f. bracteosa differs from f. callistemon, only in one character, the much longer, green floral bracts, which significantly overtop the flower buds until flower burst.


September to December, peaking in October.

Flower Colours

Red / Pink


November to January.

Propagation Technique

Very easy from divisions of whole plants, and seed. But seed must be fresh, and though germinating easily can take 10-15 years to reach flowering size. Xeronema is best grown in a long narrow pot, within a free draining mix of rock chips and compost. Plants should be watered frequently, and frequently fertilised with sea weed, manure, or high phosphate/nitrogen garden fertilisers. They should be allowed to become root bound (or they will not flower), and need high sunlight. Plants are very cold sensitive, dying in even mild frosts.


None. However in a recent study de Lange & Cameron (1999: New Zealand Journal of Botany 37(3):435-437) found that f. bracteosa was scarce in the wild. It would seem to only be a minor genetically fixed variant, which is why de Lange & Cameron (1999) reduced its rank to that of forma.

Chromosome No.

2n = 34, 36

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Very rare in cultivation, and probably not available commericially. All plants seen seem to stem from the holotype, which was a garden plant grown at Whangarei.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 October 2004. Description based on Moore & Edgar (1970) supplemented by observations obtained from fresh specimens and herbarium material (see also de Lange & Cameron 1999).

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J.; Cameron, E.K. 1999: The vascular flora of Aorangi Island, Poor Knights Islands, northern New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37: 433-468.

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Wellington, Government Printer.

This page last updated on 29 Apr 2014