Ceratocephala pungens

Key Features

  • A spring annual which germinates in winter or early spring, flowers and fruits in spring, then shrivels and dies in early or mid summer.
  • A tiny, tufted rossett-forming herb, only 1.5-2 cm tall and less than 30 mm in diameter.
  • Has a cryptic colour and texture. The leaves are divided into lobes and each lobe is divided 2-3 times into oblong segments.

Distribution and Habitat

  • Otago and historically was also found in south Canterbury.
  • Is specialised to grow in thin, skeletal, summer-dry/winter frost-heaved soils with sparse vegetation cover – ‘semi-deserts’.


  • Competition from exotic species.
  • Grazing by sheep, goats and rabbits.
  • Conversion and loss of habitat.

Management Opportunities

  • Survey for new locations.
  • Mark known sites.
  • Protection of habitat.
  • Removal of exotic species.
  • Ensure that forest owners are aware of potential habitats and can recognise the species.

Monitoring Options

  • Check existing populations annually.
  • Report new locations to DOC, NZPCN.

Further Information and Support

  • New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN). http://www.nzpcn.org.nz
  • References:
    • Rogers, G.; Walker, S.; Tubbs, M. & Henderson, J. (2002). Ecology and conservation status of three “spring annual” herbs in dryland ecosystems of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 40: 649-669.
    • Peter de Lange, Peter Heenan, David Norton, Jeremy Rolfe and John Sawyer (2010). Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch. 472 pp.