• Proposed
  • Under Assessment
  • VUPreliminary Assessed
  • 4Assessed
  • 5Published

Urocystis novae-zelandiae (G. Cunn.) G. Cunn.

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Scientific name
Urocystis novae-zelandiae
(G. Cunn.) G. Cunn.
Common names
IUCN Specialist Group
Rust and Smut
Assessment status
Preliminary Assessed
Preliminary Category
Proposed by
Cvetomir M. Denchev
Cvetomir M. Denchev
Teodor T. Denchev
Comments etc.
Anders Dahlberg

Assessment Status Notes

Preliminary red-list assessment: VU D1 (Vulnerable)

Taxonomic notes

Why suggested for a Global Red List Assessment?

Urocystis novae-zelandiae is a host specific smut fungus which develops sori on leaves and stems of Anemone tenuicaulis (Ranunculaceae) (Vánky & McKenzie 2002; Vánky 2011).

The host plant, Anemone tenuicaulis, is endemic to New Zealand. It is distributed in upper montane to subalpine habitats (900–1300 m alt.), with localities in the North Island (from the Tararua ranges southward) and South Island (de Lange 2014). Although not believed to be threatened, A. tenuicaulis is assessed as a biologically sparse species (especially in the northern part of its range, where the only locality of Urocystis novae-zelandiae is situated) and is regionally ranked as At Risk – Naturally Uncommon (de Lange et al. 2009, 2013).

The smut fungus, Urocystis novae-zelandiae, is known only from the type collection (South Island, Buller, Mt. Mantell) where it was collected in 1928 (Vánky & McKenzie 2002).

Urocystis novae-zelandiae is a very rare parasitic fungus. It has been collected only once, many years ago, and it is a species found in a country with very well inventoried smut fungi. Urocystis novae-zelandiae is host-specific and is obligately dependant on its host plant, which is restricted in distribution to New Zealand. Anemone tenuicaulis is a very well studied species. There is no plausible threat to this plant on Mt. Mantell (P.J. de Lange, pers. comm.). The New Zealand category “At Risk - Naturally Uncommon” is applied for this plant because it is confined to a specific habitat, has limited distribution which is not a result of past or recent human disturbance, and the number of mature individuals falls within the range of 250–20 000 (de Lange et al. 2009): this applies to the host plant. The present fungus has been observed only once – the type collection – subsequent searches of the associated plant by both botanists and mycologists have not found any other instance of this conspicuous and systemic fungus. Urocystis novae-zelandiae is much rarer than its host plant. The number of the mature individuals of that fungus is estimated not to exceed 1000. Hence, U. novae-zelandiae fulfills VU D1.

Preliminary red-list assessment: VU D1 (Vulnerable)

Geographic range

Urocystis novae-zelandiae is known only from the type collection (New Zealand, South Island, Buller, Mt. Mantell) where it was collected in 1928 (Vánky & McKenzie 2002).

Population and Trends

The number of mature individuals is estimated not to exceed 1000. There is no specific information on population trends.

Population Trend: Uncertain

Habitat and Ecology

The sori of Urocystis novae-zelandiae develop on leaves and stems of Anemone tenuicaulis (Ranunculaceae). This fungus is host-specific and depends on its host plant.

Anemone tenuicaulis is a perennial, rhizomatous herb, with a stem (5–) 15–50 cm high. This species grows in upper montane to subalpine habitats (900–1300 m alt.) where it grows in herbfield and short to tall tussock grasslands, usually in damp sites (Webb et al. 1988; de Lange 2014). The collection site of Urocystis novae-zelandiae is situated in the subalpine zone of Mt. Mantell.

GrasslandTemperate Grassland



Conservation Actions

The only known locality of this smut fungus is not included in a protected area. Assessment and conservation of the host plant is needed. Ex situ conservation of the plant will not necessarily protect the fungus: in situ conservation is needed.

Land/water protectionSite/area protectionLand/water managementSite/area managementEducation & awarenessAwareness & communications

Research needed

Further information is needed about population levels and potential threats for the fungus.

ResearchPopulation size, distribution & trendsThreatsMonitoringPopulation trendsHabitat trends


de Lange, P.J. 2014. Anemone tenuicaulis. New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=220. Downloaded on 22 February 2015.

de Lange, P.J., Norton, D.A., Courtney, S.P., Heenan, P.B., Barkla, J.W., Cameron, E.K., Hitchmough, R. and Townsend, A.J. 2009. Threatened and uncommon plants of New Zealand (2008 revision). New Zealand Journal of Botany 47: 61–96.

de Lange, P.J., Rolfe, J.R., Champion, P.D., Courtney, S.P., Heenan, P.B., Barkla, J.W., Cameron, E.K., Norton, D.A. and Hitchmough, R.A. 2013. Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 3. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Vánky, K. 2011. Smut Fungi of the World. APS Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

Vánky, K. and McKenzie, E.H.C. 2002. Smut fungi of New Zealand. Fungi of New Zealand. Vol. 2. Fungal Diversity Press, Hong Kong.

Webb, C.J., Sykes, W.R. and Garnock-Jones, P.J. 1988. Flora of New Zealand. Vol. 4. Naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, Dicotyledons. Botany Division, D.S.I.R., Christchurch, New Zealand.

Denchev, C.M., McKenzie, E.H.C. & Denchev, T.T. 2015. Urocystis novae-zelandiae (G. Cunn.) G. Cunn. In: The Global Fungal Red List Initiative. http://iucn.ekoo.se/iucn/species_view/307495/.

Known distribution - countries

Regional Population and Trends

Country Trend Redlisted