The rocky screes of Mt Lyford make an ideal habitat for scree loving plants and coming across Leptinella atrata ssp. leuteola in full flower is wonderful. It blends in well with its surrounds.
Shooting up from buried rhizomes the finely divided leaves, fern like, hairy leaves grow in tufts between the scree stones. Flower stems rise up between 3 and 7 cm above the tufts and carry tight daisy like heads 1-1.5cm across with many individual flowers which in bud are a dark, purplish red crammed together but open to a pale lemon yellow. This makes a lovely flower.
In cultivation this choice plant grows well in pots or a rock garden provided there is very good drainage. As they are not in an alpine environment the flowering season may be longer.
This photograph was taken on New Years Eve at Mt Lyford. Metcalf (1993) suggested it was only known at 4 sites in nature. This is a new site but more recent literature may have included this site. It is found naturally in the greater Marlborough area on the eastern mountain screes.
Leptinella atrata (Hook.f) ssp luteola was named by Dr David Lloyd and Dr Colin Webb in 1987. It was renamed Leptinella atrata subsp. atrata D.G. Lloyd et C.J. Webb.Leuteola means yellow referring to the light yellow florets.
24 species of the genus Leptinella grow in New Zealand but only a few make really good plants in cultivation as most are very low and spreading. Cotula bowling greens have been constructed using some species due to their flat creeping nature and underground rhizomes and ability to grow well in these conditions.
Also see Leptinella atrata ssp atrata on this blog