Leptinella pusilla


Leptinella: From the Greek word leptos (meaning slender, thin or delicate), referring to the ovary
pusilla: Small

Current Conservation Status

2018 - At Risk - Declining

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

2012 - Not Threatened
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Leptinella pusilla Hook.f.



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 perpusilla Hook.f., Cotula angustata G.Simpson


Endemic. North and South Islands. In the north known from near Dannevirke (historic) south to Cape Palliser and the south Wellington coast. In the South Island easterly from the Richmond Range (Marlborough) south to the Foveaux Strait.


Coastal to subalpine (0-1200 m a.s.l.) but more frequent at lower altitudes. Usually found in open sites on gravel, sand or in sparsely vegetated tussock grassland, or in the shade of rock outcrops.


Dioecious, creeping, tufted perennial herb of open ground and grassland. Rhizomes deeply buried, pale, wiry and glabrous; branches uncommon, usually single at flowering nodes; initially clade in spirally arranged scales set 5-20 mm apart. Short shoots growing upward from buried rhizomes, each apically bearing 4-8 tufted leaves. Roots slender, weak, 0.5 mm diameter. Leaves 1-pinnatifid, 10-60 x 3-10 mm; blade 5-30 mm long, light green usually with proximal or all pinnae heavily brown-pigmented, lanceolate to obovate, submembranous, glabrous to densely villous hairy, midrib raised along most of ventral surface; pinnae 8-15 pairs, usually distant, sometimes overlapping, cut to rhachis, oblong or obovate; teeth absent or up to 8 per pinna, on distal margins only, usually obscured by hairs, cut 1/4-1/2 acros spinna, narrowly triangular, acute to acuminate, sometimes with a terminal weft of hairs. Peduncles villous about equal in length to leaves, 10-30 mm, ebracteate or bearing 1 simple bract. Pistillate capitula 2-4 mm extending to 8 mm diameter in fruit; surface convex, involucre urceolate; involucral bracts 15-30, unequally 3-, or more seriate, broadly elliptic, green, more or less villous with a broad, usually brown tipped, scarious margin; inner bracts elongated after anthesis to enclose subglobose fruiting head; florets 25-80, 2 mm long, curved, yellow-green; corolla slightly longer than wide, dentition unequal. Staminate heads 3-5 mm diameter; involucre hemispherical, involucral bracts 5-10, subequally uni-, or biseriate, not extending after anthesis; florets similar but slightly more numerous. Cypsela 1.6 x 1 mm, initially pale, chartaceous maturing brown and smooth, slightly compressed, unwrinkled.

Similar Taxa

Leptinella serrulata (D.G.Lloyd) D.G.Lloyd et C.J.Webb and L. calcarea (D.G.Lloyd) D.G.Lloyd et C.J.Webb are closely related to L. pusilla. L. calcarea differs by its rigidly stiff, fleshy leaves lacking any brown pigmentation, it is also geographically isolated from both L. serrulata and L. pusilla. L. serrulata differs from L. pusilla mainly by its consistently and copiously silvery-hairy, submembranous leaves, and by the pinnae that are usually overlapping rather than distant. Furthermore, the pinnae teeth are more or less oblong rather than triangular. L. pusilla is frequently sympatric with L. serrulata. Exact distinction between both specie sis often not that easy and further research is needed to confirm the status of L. serrulata.


August - November

Flower Colours



October - January (-March)

Propagation Technique

Easily grown and so fairly common in cultivation. However, most cultivated material is of one sex-type so seed is rarely produced. An excellent ground cover for sunny, dry sites on fre drainign soils. Once established this species is remarkably drought tolerant. Plants sold as Cotula perpusilla cv. Platts Black are not L. pusilla but L. serrulata.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 104

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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




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

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 5 Jun 2015