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Volume 76, 1946-47
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Descriptions of New Species of Scirpus.

[Read before the Auckland Institute, August 21, 1946; received by Editor, August 29, 1946; issued separately, September, 1947.]

Scirpus maritimus L. was included by Raoul (Choix de Plantes de La Nouvelle-Zelande, 1846, p. 40) in his enumeration of the plants occurring in New Zealand. Hooker (Flora Novae-Zelandiae, 1853, p. 268) also records S. maritimus L. as being abundant in the North and South Islands, collected by Colenso and others. In his Handbook of the New Zealand Flora (1864, p. 300) Hooker states the species was collected by Banks and Solander. Cheeseman (Manual of the Flora of N.Z., 1906, p. 778) records the New Zealand forms he places under S. maritimus L. as belonging to the varieties fluviatilis Torr and macrostachya Michx. He states “according to Mr. C. B. Clarke, the typical form of the species has not yet been observed in Australia or New Zealand.” All the species labelled by Cheeseman in various herbaria bear one or other of the varietal names, but it is not clear whether he accepts C. B. Clarke's view or not.

Subsequent revision of the Scirpus species, including the varieties above has resulted in the latter being elevated to the rank of species var. macrostachya being now Scirpus robustus Pursh (Fl. Am. Sept. 56, 1814) and var. fluviatilis is now Scirpus fluviatilis (Torr) A. Gray (Man. Bot. 527, 1848), and these names have accordingly been applied to the N.Z. plants.

A study of the N.Z. specimens reveals, however, that three species are involved and further, a comparison of these species with N. American S. robustus Pursh and S. fluviatilis (Torr) A. Gray, and with allied species shows that they differ materially. The latter is a stouter plant with large spikelets and a much larger achene. S. robustus Pursh is also larger than the N.Z. plant bearing that name and has a very different achene. Our plant resembles Scirpus paludosus Nels. but again the achene is different. The species described below as a third N.Z. species, having hitherto been confused with the above species, resembles Scirpus robustus Pursh, but the fruits are quite different. A comparison of the achenes of the above species and also of Scirpus maritimus L. may be made from the drawings accompanying this paper.

The N.Z. plants are distinct from Scirpus maritimus L., Scirpus fluviatilis (Torr) A. Gray, and Scirpus robustus Pursh, and their descriptions as new species are as follows:—

Measurements of stems and leaves about mid-point.

Measurements of spikelets when in fruit.

Flowering spikelets are narrower and those of pressed specimens broader. It has to be noticed that in the above species the leaves become narrower as they ascend the stem, which also tapers. The measurements given are of leaves at about the mid-point of the stem.

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Subgenus Euscirpus, Griseb. (emend) Beetle Amer. J. Bot. 27 63–64, 1940.

Section Reigera Opiz Sezman 83, 1852.

1. Scirpus caldwellii sp. nov. Culmus foliatus trigonus striatus 0.3–0.9 m. altus 2–3 mm. latus pars superior margine scabroso basi tuberascens e rhizomate subterraneo tuberifos emittens. Folia plana graminea attenuata pars superior carinus marginibusque scabris 2.5–4 mm. lata 25–30 cm. longa. Bracteae 2–3 foliis similes patulae inaequales ima longissima recta inflorescentiam excedens culmum quasi continuans 10–22 cm. longa 1.5–2.5 mm. lata ceterae obliquae. Bracteolae similes ad glumas sed muero longus strictus scabris interdum absentes. Inflorescentia simplex capito-contracta vel 1–3 radiata radii breviter ad 30 mm. longi. Spiculae 5–10 in apice culmi 1–4 in apice radiorum saepe confertae 10–20 mm. longae 4–8 mm. latae ovato-cylindricae. Glumae castanae vel brunneae chartacae ovatae dense imbricatae scabridulae apex bifida vel lacerata, in mucronatum ± excurvum productum.

Stamina 3 antherae breviter apiculatae setiferae. Stylus longus bifidus Setae hypogonae 6 inaequales longissime ca ½ nux caducae retrorse denticulatae. Nux lenticularis vel obovata compressa lutea-brunnea nitens 4 mm. longa (toro incluso) 2 3–2.5 mm. lata breviter apiculata ½ glumae aequans lacuna in utroque latere manifeste reticulata ob cellulas extimas hexagonas.

Root a rhizome, spreading, nodes dilated into hard tubers. Culms trigonous striate 0.3–0.9 mm. high, 2–3 mm. broad, margins scabrid above. Basal sheath pointed, brownish in older plants. Leaves cauline, grasslike, gradually tapering to a point, upper portions scabrid on midrib and margins, 2.5–4 mm. broad, 25–30 cm. long, upper leaves usually narrower than those below. Inflorescence a compact head of 3–5 spikelets with frequently 1–3 rays 10–25 mm. long subtended by 2–3 involucral bracts resembling the leaves, these bracts scabrid and unequal, the longest erect 10–22 cm. long, 1.5–2.5 mm. wide; others oblique. Spikelets ovoid to cylindric 10–20 mm. long, chestnut to brown, flowers numerous, glumes puberulent, tips cleft or lacerate, midrib produced into a somewhat scabrid awn somewhat recurved. Stamens 3, tips of anthers hispid, shortly apiculate. Styles long 2. Perianth bristles 6, unequal, retrorsely scabrid, the longest about half the nut. Achene 4 mm. long 2 3–2.5 mm. broad, lenticular or obovate, compressed, smooth, shining, shortly pointed, a depression on each side, ½ the glume, yellow to brown when ripe.

North Island. Northcote, 1921, Petrie; Auckland (no date), Colonel Haultain; Nr. Hobson Bay, Auckland Harbour, 1911, Petrie; Waitemata Harbour (no date), Cheeseman; Onehunga Springs, 1926, 1928, Carse; 1945, Cook; Thames River, 1886, Cheeseman; 1941, Cook; Waitakaruru, 1942, Cook; Mercury Bay, 1939, Mason; Hamilton, 1889, Petrie; Opotiki, 1932, Potts; Gisborne (no date), Townson; vic. Napier, Cheeseman (no date), 1932; Aston; 1889, Petrie: Tokaanu, 1943, Cook; Foxton (no date), Zotov.

South Island. Saltwater Creek, 1943, A. J. Healey; River Avon,

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1. Scirpus perviridis (inflorescence). 1a. Achene.
2. Scirpus medianus (inflorescence). 2a. Achene. 2b. Achene.
3. Scirpus caldwellii (inflorescence). 3a. Achene.
4. Scirpus fluviatilis (Torr.) A. Gray (achene).
5. Scirpus robustus Pursh. (achene).
6. Scirpus paludosus Nels. (achene).
7. Scirpus maritimus L. (achene), after Beetle.
Scales.—Inflorescence × ½; achenes × 5.

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1901, Cockayne; Lake Ellesmere, 1945, Healey; Brooklands, 1946, H. Talbot.

Habitat. Sandy and saline areas.

Range apparently extends throughout N.Z.

Named for A. C. Caldwell, of Hamilton, for many years an enthusiastic collector and student of our indigenous flora and who did much to stimulate the writer's interest in N.Z. plants.

The distinguishing marks of this plant are the comparatively slender habit, the uniformly 2-fid style, and the broad, compressed achene.

Type locality, Waitakaruru, Thames Estuary.

Co-type in the Auckland Museum, the type in the herbarium of the author. No. 542.

2. Scirpus medianus sp. nov. Rhizoma longa lingescens tuberifum. Culmus foliatus 1–1.5 m. altus 4–5 mm. latus trigonus striatus strictus basi tuberascens pars superior margine scabroso. Folia caulina plana graminea attenuata 6–8 mm. latus, 45 cm. longus, pars superior carinis marginibus scabris. Bracteae aequantes in numero ad radios ima longissime recta culmum quasi continuans inflorescentiam excedentes ceterae oblique patentes 3–5 mm. latus 20–27 cm. longus carinis marginibusque scabris foliis patentes 3–5 mm. latus 20–27 cm. longus carinis marginibusque scabris foliis similes attenuatae. Bracteolae similes ad glumas sed mucro longus rectus mucronis margine scabroso. Inflorescentia simplex 4–6 radiata inequales radii 15–75 mm. longi. Radiolii nulli Spiculae 3–6 in apice culmi radiorumque confertae ovatae subacutae 10–15 mm. longae 5–8 mm. latae. Glumae brunneae ovatae dense imbricatac scabrae apex bifida vel lacerata in mucronatum ± excurvum productum. Stamina 3 antherae apiculatae breviter setiferae. Stylus bifidus et trifidus in eadem spiculam. Nux obovata late convexa vel obtuso-angulata in altero latere plana in altero glumae aequans apiculata; plano-convexa 3.5–4 mm. longa 2 5 mm. lata; obtuso-trigona 3 5–4 mm. longa 2.2–2.5 mm. lata (toro incluso) nitida nitens. Setae hypogonae 6 inaequales raro nux aequantes retrorse denticulatae saepe caducae.

Root a rhizome creeping bearing tubers. Culms trigonus striate 1–1.5 m. high 4–5 mm. broad, uppermost portion scabrid. Leaves cauline, grasslike, tapering, scabrid above on margins and midrib, 6–8 mm. broad, 45 cm. long or more. Inflorescence a terminal umbel of 4–6 unequal rays bearing 3–6 spikelets with a glomerule of sessile spikelets below. Spikelets 10–15 mm. long, ovoid to cylindric subacute, the whole subtended by an involucre of leaf-like scabrid, unequal bracts, as many as or 1–2 fewer than the rays 20–27 cm. long 3–5 mm. broad, longest erect, the remainder oblique. Bractlets glumelike at base of spikelcts, with narrow scabrid, erect awns; glumes pubescent, tips cleft or lacerate, midrib produced into scabrid recurved awn. Stamens 3, tips of anthers pointed, scabrid. Styles 2 and 3 fid in the same spikelet, the latter usually predominating; perianth bristles 5–6 unequal retrorsely scabrid about ½ length of the achene, somewhat deciduous Achene broadly obovoid. flat on one side, convex or obtusely angled on the other, shiny, shortly pointed, almost black

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when mature. Plano convex nuts 3 5–4 mm. long, 2.5 mm. broad; obtusely trigonous nuts 3.5–4 mm. long, 2.2–2.5 mm. broad.

North Island. Albany (no date), S. Bell; Remuera, Auckland. 1921, Petrie; Hobson Bay, Auckland, 1929, Petrie; Carse; 1946, Cook; Tamaki River, Auckland, 1922, Carse; Westmere, Auckland, 1944, Cook; Coromandel, 1944, Cook; Matatoki, Thames, 1929, Carse; Nr. Thames, 1940, Cook; (no date), Allan; Thames River, 1889, Cheeseman; Port Waikato, 1942, Cook; Tuakau, 1941, Cook; Rangariri, 1941, Cook; Lake Waahi, Waikato, 1873, Kirk; Opotiki, 1943, Potts; Tokaanu, 1943, Cook.

South Island. Greymouth, 1942, A. Pullar.

Habitat. Saline or fresh water swamps. Abundant in ditches on the Hauraki Plains and probably the most common of the species.

Type locality, vicinity Thames. Co-type in Auckland Museum. Type in herbarium of author. No. 463.

This species is intermediate in size between S. caldwellii and S. perviridis. In herbaria it is variously labelled as S. maritimus var. macrostachya Michx and S. maritimus var. fluviatilis (Torr). This confusion has arisen perhaps from the occurrence of 2 and 3-fid styles in the same plant, which is not uncommon in the Scirpus species. This has been overlooked, and the plant named according to the number of styles first noted.

Fruiting specimens are best distinguished from the next species by the shape of the achene and the shorter bristles. Flowering specimens may be distinguished by the 2-fid and 3-fid styles, the latter more often predominating. The hispid tips of the anthers are shorter and broader than those of the S. perviridis. Typical specimens differ also in the inflorescence, the rays are fewer, the spikelets compound, more compact, and the secondary rays absent.

3. Scirpus perviridis sp. nov. Rhizoma stolones longos crassos lignescentes tuberifos emittens. Culmus trigonus 1.5–2 m. altus 6–8 mm. latus strictus striatus pars sub inflorescentiam scabra basi tuberascens. Folia ex sola caule emittentia plana graminea attentuata 7–9 mm. lata usque ad 50 cm. longa pars superior carinis marginibusque scabris. Bracteae inaequales foliis similes ima longissima 4–6 mm. lata 13–20 cm. longa erecta inflorescentiam excedens ceterae oblique patentes aequantes in numero ad radios carinis marginibusque scabris. Bracteolae similes ad glumas sed muero longus rectus scaber. Inflorescentia simplex vel decomposita 6–9 radiata radii inaequales 9–70 mm. longi. Radioli pauci breves ad 10 mm. longi scabri divergentes. Spiculae 1–5 in apice culmi radiorumque ovato-cylindricae 11–25 mm. longae 8 mm. latae. Glumae rufesco-brunneae vel brunneae ovato-oblongae dense imbricatae scabrae apice bifida vel lacerata in mucronem conspicuum recurvum excurrentes. Stamina 3 antherae lineares apex in appendicem subulatum apice albosetosum productum. Stylus longus stigmata 3. Setae hypogynae 4–5 subaequales aequantes vel excedentes nucem (toro excluso) retrorse denticulatae. Nux anguste obovata trigona nigra lucida ½ glumae aequans 4 mm. longa (toro ineluso) 2 mm. lata, conspicue apieulata.

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Culms trigonous striate, scabrid below inflorescence, 6–8 mm. broad, 1.5–2 m. high, arising from tuberous-bearing rhizomes. Leaves cauline, grasslike, tapering to a point 7–9 mm. broad, 50 cm. long, scabrid above on margins. Inflorescence a compound irregular umbel of 6–9 unequal rays 9–70 mm. long, bearing 1–5 ovoid to cylindrical spikelets 11–25 mm. long, short secondary rays frequently present, sessile glomerule at base of the rays, not so compact as S. medianus. Bractlets with narrow scabrid awns at base of spikelets. Involucral bracts leaflike, unequal, as many as, or 1–2 fewer than the rays, longest erect 4–6 mm. wide 13–23 cm. long, remainder oblique. Glumes pubescent, tips cleft or lacerate, awns recurved, scabrid. Stamens anther tips hispid, sharply pointed, 0 5 mm. long. Styles uniformly 3. Perianth bristles 6 rigid, 4–5 subequal, scabrid equalling or exceeding the body of the achene. Achene 4 mm. long, 2 mm. broad, trigonous, narrowly obovoid, conspicuously pointed, equalling ½ the glume, shining and almost black when ripe.

The 3-fid style, the conspicuously pointed and hispid anthers distinguish this species when in flower. In fruit the chief characteristics are the narrower nut, the longer bristles, and the more obtuse spikelets.

North Island. Rangihihi, Kaitaia, 1912, Carse; Dargaville, 1935, Allan; 1940, Cook; Tangimoana Flats, 1941, Healey; Waipiro Bay, Waiupu Co., 1897, Petrie; Whangarei, 1926, W. S. Given; Onehunga, 1866, Kirk; 1945, Cook; St. John's Lake, Auckland, 1928, Carse; Kennedy Bay, Coromandel, H. B. Matthews and Carse; Waikato River (no date), Cheeseman; Lower Waikato, 1900, Carse; 1945, Cook; Mercer, 1946, Cook; Cape Runaway, 1941, L. B. Moore; Bunnythorpe, 1937, Healey; Foxton, 1940, A. L. Poole.

Habitat. Fresh water swamps and river margins.

It may be noted that S. perviridis has not yet been recorded from the South Island.

Type Locality. Vicinity Port Waikato. Co-type in Auckland Museum. Type in herbarium of author. No. 534.


Scirpus maritimus L. and varieties macrostachya Michx. and fluviatilis (Torr) do not occur in New Zealand and their range is thus significantly reduced. The plants to which these names have been applied in Cheeseman (Man. N.Z. Flora, 1906, 778) are three new species here described by the writer as Scirpus caldwellii, S. medianus and S. perviridis. Whether our plants are conspecific with the Australian species remains to be determined.


To A. A. Beetle, of the University of California, for material and for valuable comments on specimens sent to him.

To Dr. H. H. Allan, for literature, material, and advice.

To the Directors of the following museums:—Auckland Museum, Auckland; Dominion Museum, Wellington; Canterbury Museum. Christchurch; Otago Museum, Dunedin.

To R. Tizard, for the accompanying drawings.