Find out about native plants of Canterbury's sub-alpine areas.

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Native plants of sub-alpine areas in Canterbury (PDF, 957K)

Grown from seed collected from the Mackenzie County Council District.

The sub-alpine region is dominated by various species of snow tussock, occupying a range of environmental conditions. The broad-leaved snow tussock (Chionochloa flavescens) and red tussock/hau mata (Chionochloa rubra) prefer wetter sites, where as the narrow-leaved snow tussock/wï kura (Chionochloa rigida) and the slim-leaved snow tussock (Chionochloa macra) prefer drier sites.

Shrub species are also common in the sub-alpine environment and form extensive communities, commonly referred to as a sub-alpine shrub zone. Snow tōtara (Podocarpus nivalis), mountain toatoa (Phyllocladus alpinus), porcupine shrub (Melicytus alpinus), species of turpentine shrubs (Dracophyllum), Hebes/koromiko, and Coprosma/karamū species are common throughout this area.

An important part of the sub-alpine flora is a wide diversity of herbaceous plant species. Common species include the mountain daisies (Celmisia/tikumu), speargrass/taramea (Aciphylla), small tussocks and grasses - such as mountain fescue (Festuca matthewsii) and carpet grass (Chionochloa australis), gentians and mountain buttercups/kawariki (Ranunculus). Mats, or cushion plants, designed to withstand harsh conditions, are also a feature of sub-alpine flora. Vegetable sheep, such as Raoulia exima, are an excellent example of the cushion plant habit.

Two threatened species found growing in the sub-alpine zone in Canterbury are Pittosporum patulum and Hebe cupressoides.

Sub alpine

Species name and common name

T = threatened

  1. Acaena caesiiglauca
  2. Acaena inermis
  3. Aciphylla aurea taramea, golden spaniard
  4. Aciphylla montana
  5. Aciphylla scott-thomsonii
  6. Aciphylla subflabellata
  7. Aristotelia fruticosa mountain wineberry
  8. Brachyglottis bellidioides
  9. Brachyglottis bennetii
  10. Brachyglottis cassinioides
  11. Carmichaelia grandiflora
  12. Carmichaelia petriei desert broom
  13. Carmichaelia uniflora
  14. Celmisia semicordata false spaniard
  15. Chionochloa rigida wï kura, narrow leaved snow tussock
  16. Chionochloa rubra haumata, red tussock
  17. Coprosma atropurpurea
  18. Coprosma ciliata
  19. Chionochloa conspicua hunangämoho
  20. Chionochloa flavescens broad leaved snow tussock
  21. Coprosma propinqua
  22. Coprosma ‘Taylorii’
  23. Coprosma rugosa
  24. Carmichaelia crassicaule
  25. Coriaria angustissima
  26. Coriaria sarmentosa
  27. Corokia cotoneaster korokio
  28. Craspedia uniflora woollyhead
  29. Discaria toumatu matagouri, tümatakuru
  30. Festuca matthewsii alpine fescue tussock
  31. Festuca novae-zelandiae fescue tussock
  32. Hebe buchannii
  33. Hebe cupressoides
  34. Hebe haastii
  35. Hebe macrantha
  36. Hebe odora
  37. Hebe pinguifolia
  38. Hebe subalpina
  39. Melicytus alpinus porcupine shrub
  40. Muehlenbeckia axillaris
  41. Olearia cymbifolia shrub daisy
  42. Olearia fimbriata
  43. Olearia virgata
  44. Ozothamus leptophylla tauhinu, golden cottonwood
  45. Phyllocladus alpinus mountain toatoa
  46. Pimelea prostrata
  47. Pittosporum patulum (T)
  48. Poa colensoi blue tussock
  49. Poa macra
  50. Ranunculus lyallii
  51. Sophora microphylla köwhai
  52. Sophora prostrata dwarf köwhai

Some Maori names are generic, eg.
wi – tussock spp.
karamu – Coprosma spp.
akeake – olearia spp.

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