Lachnagrostis littoralis subsp. littoralis


Lachnagrostis: From "lachne" (wool) referring to the distinctive callus hairs of this genus and "agrostis" by which Trinius (1820) actually meant "a grass" (not an Agrostis). So the generic name means "a hairy (woolly) grass" not "a hairy (woolly) Agrostis" as is often incorrectly stated (see Gardner 2014).
littoralis: From the Latin littus 'shore', meaning shore-loving or growing on the shore

Common Name(s)

coastal wind grass

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


Lachnagrostis littoralis (Hack.) Edgar subsp. littoralis



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



Deyeuxia forsteri var. littoralis Hack. comb. illeg., var. epithet legit., Lachnagrostis filiformis var. littoralis (Hack.) Zotov


Endemic. Common in coastal habitats throughout the North Island, northern South Island and Chatham Islands


Strictly coastal. Usually on exposed cliff faces, in coastal turf, and amongst boulders or on cobble beaches. Occasionally found in petrel scrub or in damp depressions within sand dune systems. Rarely found in estuaries on mud banks or amongst saltmarsh vegetation.


Densely tufted, light green to greyish green or glaucous, annual grass 30-400 mm tall, whole plant often withering early and culms not breaking up below panicle. Branching intravaginal. Leaf-sheath finely striate, subhyaline, smooth or minutely scabrid above. Ligule 0.2-3.0 mm, oblong, tapered, subobtuse or denticulate, sometimes lacerate, undersides sparsely scabrid. Leaf-blade firm 10-80 x 1.5-5 mm, flat, or sometimes involute and 0.5 mm diameter, underside smooth or minutely papillose, rarely scabrid, upper surface minutely scabrid on ribs and margins, leaf tip acute to subobtuse. Culm 10-140 mm, included within leaf-sheaths, internodes finely scabrid below panicle, rarely visible until culm breaks up at maturity. Panicle 20-120 x 5-85 mm, delicate, ± contracted, later spreading, enclosed at base by sheath of uppermost culm-leaf; branches and branchlets ± erect, all ± equal in length, slender, sparsely scabrid, naked for much of their length, the ultimate branchlets tipped by 1-2 spikelets. Spikelets 2.5-6.0 mm, light green or greenish brown, slender. Glumes narrow elliptic-lanceolate, usually equal or the upper slightly shorter, acute to acuminate to shortly mucronate, 1-nerved, smooth, keel scabrid, margins hyaline, finely scabrid above. Lemma 1.5-2.5 mm long, oblong-ovate, 5-nerved with scattered to rather dense short silky hairs, often glabrous above, lateral nerves shortly excurrent, faintly scabrid; awn 3-6 mm long, ± mid-dorsal, geniculate, slightly twisted near base. Palea slightly < lemma, nerves 0.1-0.2 mm apart, keels minutely excurrent, faintly scabrid at apex. Callus hairs dense, very short, to 0.5 mm long covered one-fifth of lemma. Rachilla prolongation minute 0.2-1.0 mm, with hair tuft 0.5-1.5 mm long. Lodicules 0.7 mm long, linear, acute. Anthers 0.3-1.0 mm. Seed 1.0-1.5 x 0.4-0.7 mm.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from L. littoralis subsp. salaria Edgar by the geniculate rather than curved awn, and generally smaller size. Lachnagrostis littoralis subsp. salaria is confined to the eastern South Island (from North Canterbury south) and Stewart Island. It is also a much coarser grass than subsp. littoralis. From L. filiformis it differs by the ± equal lengths of the naked primary and secondary panicle branches, and by the lemma usually 1.8-3.0 mm (cf. 1.3-2.0 mm long in L. filiformis) and anthers 0.4-0.7 rather than 0.2-0.5 mm long. Lachnagrostis littoralis subsp. littoralis further differs from L. filiformis in that it is strictly coastal and usually a much smaller, more delicate, annual grass.


September - May


October - June

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed. Can become invasive.


Not Threatened but can be uncommon over parts of its range

Chromosome No.

2n = 56

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Some Kermadec islands plants attributed to this species warrant further study as they appear intermediate between L. littoralis and L. pilosa.



Fact Sheet by P.J. de Lange 14 April June 2005. 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.

Gardner, R.O. 2014: Notes on the wind grass Lachnagrostis filiformis (Poaceae). Auckland Botanical Society Journal 69: 168-170.

Trinius, C.B. 1820: Fundamenta Agrostographiae. J.G.Huebner, Vienna.

This page last updated on 10 Dec 2014