Acaena novae-zelandiae Kirk


Trans. & Proc. New Zealand Inst. 3: 177 (1871) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Native

Prostrate or procumbent, stoloniferous perennial herb; stems to 1.5 cm long, sparsely to densely hairy. Leaves 7–11-foliolate, ovate in outline, 2–11 cm long; leaflets more or less oblong, the largest 8–20 mm long, 5–10 mm wide, margins toothed, recurved, upper surface shiny green and glabrous or sparsely hairy, lower surface glaucous and sparsely to densely pilose on veins and margins; rhachis often red; stipules entire to 5-lobed, free portion 5–10 mm long. Inflorescence globose, 4–15 mm diam.; peduncles pubescent, 3–12 cm long, elongating to 20 cm in fruit; sepals 4; stamens 2, creamy-white; style 1, white. Fruiting head globose, 20–25(–40) mm diam.; fruiting hypanthia obconical, 4–6 mm long, 4-ribbed, villous; spines 4, 6–12 mm long, red, occasionally with stunted secondary spines. Flowers and fruits Sep.–Apr.

Brid, CVU, DunT, EGL, EGU, GipP, Glep, Gold, GGr, HFE, HNF, HSF, MonT, MuF, NIS, OtP, OtR, SnM, Strz, VAlp, VRiv, VVP, WaP, WPro, Wim. Also WA (naturalised), SA, Qld, NSW, ACT, Tas. Except for the far north-west, wide-spread throughout Victoria, from grasslands to montane forests and alpine meadows.

Acaena pallida (Kirk) Allan, described from coastal habitats in New Zealand, differs from A. novae-zelandiae in being larger overall (terminal leaflet 12–20 mm long, flowering heads 10–12 mm diam., fruiting heads 25–30(–40) mm diam., achenes c. 6 mm long) and in having 1 or 2 short, unbarbed spines below the 4 barbed, terminal spines. Acaena pallida has recently been reported from Tasmania and New South Wales and could be expected to occur in Victoria (Macmillan 1991). Several Victorian specimens from coastal and non-coastal localities (e.g. Mallacoota, Corner Inlet, Lang Lang, Beaumaris, Warrnambool, Portland, Barmah Forest) exhibit characteristics of A. pallida in various combinations but not necessarily all as outlined above. Pending a critical appraisal of the characters used to distinguish A. pallida, all simply globose-headed specimens of Acaena in Victoria are retained within A. novae-zelandiae.

Source: Jeanes, J.A.; Jobson, P.C. (1996). Rosaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 3, Dicotyledons Winteraceae to Myrtaceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2019-01-08

MacMillan, B.H. (1991). Acaena pallida (Kirk) Allan (Rosaceae) in Tasmania and New South Wales, Australia, in: Banks, M.R., Smith, S.J., Orchard, A.E. & Kantvilas, G. (eds), Aspects of Tasmanian Botany, Royal Society of Tasmania, Hobart.

Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Rosanae
order Rosales
family Rosaceae
genus Acaena
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Acaena novae-zelandiae in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Acaena novae-zelandiae in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Wimmera present native
Glenelg Plain present native
Bridgewater present native
Victorian Volcanic Plain present native
Victorian Riverina present native
Murray Fans present native
Gippsland Plain present native
Otway Plain present native
Warrnambool Plain present native
Goldfields present native
Central Victorian Uplands present native
Greater Grampians present native
Dundas Tablelands present native
Northern Inland Slopes present native
East Gippsland Lowlands present native
East Gippsland Uplands present native
Wilsons Promontory present native
Highlands-Southern Fall present native
Highlands-Northern Fall present native
Otway Ranges present native
Strzelecki Ranges present native
Monaro Tablelands present native
Highlands-Far East present native
Victorian Alps present native
Snowy Mountains present native

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory