Carmichaelia muritai


Carmichaelia: after Carmichael, a botanist

Common Name(s)

coastal tree broom

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Endangered

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 Endangered
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Critical


2012 - CD, RF, RR
2009 - CD, RF, RR


Carmichaelia muritai (A.W.Purdie) Heenan



Brief Description

Rare small tree with many erect brownish leafless twigs inhabiting the coastal Kaikoura area. Twigs oval in cross section, smooth, lower twigs drooping. Flowers small, pea-like, pink with darker centre, clustered into conspicuous long spikes. Fruit a small dry pod containing 1-2 hard yellowish seeds.

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 Trees & Shrubs


Chordospartium muritai A.W.Purdie


Endemic. South Island, Marlborough, vicinity of Clifford Bay


Deeply eroded coastal cliffs on coarse, free draining gravel and loess, colluvial fans below cliffs.


Leafless tree 5-6 m tall. Trunk, stout up to 250 mm diam. Branches numerous, grey-brown, uppermost erect, lower drooping. Bark smooth with raised rings at nodes. Branches compact, striate, deeply grooved, flat to round, 3.5 mm wide, grey-green maturing yellow-green, densely hairy, bearing stipules at emergent shoots. Leaves reduced to scales on mature shoots. Inflorescences lateral, erect, racemes up to 70 mm; solitary or in groups on flowering shoots arising at nodes. Flowers 4 x 4 mm. Peduncles hairy, 0.8 mm long; pedicels 1 mm, hairy. Calyx rim and outer tube hairy. Petals white with purple-violet markings toward standard and keel; veins of petals violet; standard suborbicular, longer than wings, margins reflexed; wings dolabriform, obtuse. Fruit a stramineous upturned, obliquely obovate 3.5 x 1.8 mm, greyish-white, pod. Seeds 1(-2) per pod, yellow-green, reniform, 1.5 x 1 mm.

Similar Taxa

Allied to C. stevensonii (Cheeseman) Heenan from which it differs by its erect upper branchlets and racemes. It is also a smaller tree with brownish-grey branches; C. stevensonii grows up to 15 m tall and has yellowish-green branches. The flowers of C. muritai are smaller (4 x 4 cf. 8 x 6 mm), and whitish rather than lavender, while the pods, which usually bear 1(-2) rather than 1-3 seeds, are 3.5 x 1.8 rather than 2.5 x 2 mm.


December – January

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


Present throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed. The hard seed coat should be chipped or sanded to expose the endosperm, this action greatly increases the chances of germination success. It can be grown from hard wood cuttings but these are difficult to strike. Best planted in a free draining, fertile soil in a sunny, sheltered position. Although it does well in exposed sites, better results seem to be obtained from specimens planted next to a wall or with some shelter from strong winds. Once planted this species does not transplant well, and it resents any form of root disturbance. Like many native brooms that have evolved in the drier eastern South Island, this species does not thrive in humid climates.


Only two small natural populations are known. One is seriously threatened by goats, summer drought, coastal erosion and weeds. The other though thriving is vulnerable to fire. All parts of C. muritai, though the seedlings especially, are highly sought after by browsing animals such as possums, goats, sheep, rabbits and hares.

Chromosome No.

2n = 32

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seeds are possibly dispersed by wind and granivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Occasionally available from retail and specialist native plant nurseries.



Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 October 2003. Description adapted from Purdie (1985) - see also de Lange et al. (2010).

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J.; Heenan, P.B.; Norton, D.A.; Rolfe, J.R.; Sawyer, J.W.D. 2010: Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Christchurch, Canterbury University Press. 471pp.

Purdie, A.W. 1985: Chordospartium muritai (Papilionaceae) a rare new species of New Zealand tree broom. New Zealand Journal of Botany 23: 157-161

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


This page last updated on 19 Dec 2014