Most of the records for the uses of this plant are under the name Acaena anserinifolia (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) Druce (synonym Acaena sanguisorbae L.f. ex Vahl). However, the range given is usually Australia and New Zealand, with the plant also being naturalized in Britain. The given range does not fit with the known range of this species, but does fit with the range of the very similar Acaena novae-zelandiae Kirk (synonym Acaena sanguisorbae subsp. novae-zelandiae (Kirk) Bitter). In all probability, since the plants are so similar, they were used interchangeably but we are moving the records to this species for the sake of accuracy[
Acaena anserinifolia auct.
Acaena sanguisorbae subsp. novae-zelandi (Kirk) Bitter
Common Name: Pirri-Pirri Bur
Plant being grown as part of a revegetation project on the Koonung Creek, Box Hill, Melbourne, Australia
Photograph by: Scottwatson
Acaena novae-zelandiae is a prostrate, evergreen perennial plant with creeping stems that form new roots at the nodes and become more or less woody. The plant forms a spreading mat of growth around 15cm high, higher at times when the stems become somewhat climbing in habit[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and for making a tea. It is often grown as an ornamental, making an attractive and effective ground cover.
A very invasive plant, spreading freely by its seed which readily attaches itself to clothing, fur etc. It can also be spread by people throwing away parts of the plant, which will soon root and grow into a new clump. and by its procumbent rooting stems[
Eastern Australia, New Zealand.
Open positions from lowland to the montane zone in North, South and Stewart Islands of New Zealand[
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in ordinary well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. Requires a warm position[
]. Adaptable to poorly-drained soils in Australia[
The leaves are used as a substitute for tea[
The leaves are antiphlogistic, astringent, carminative, diuretic and vulnerary[
]. An infusion is used in the treatment of kidney problems[
]. A decoction is used as a tonic, to treat bladder and stomach complaints and rheumatism. This used to be highly thought of as a remedy, and a proprietary medicine was developed from it, though we have no knowledge of whether it is still in use[
]. The leaves are boiled, allowed to stand and the liquid drunk cold. It is said to be an effective tonic and remedy for rheumatism, kidney troubles and perhaps also venereal disease[
Applied externally an infusion of the leaves is used as a wash on open wounds, itches, is rubbed on contusions and applied to the genitals (of women?) the treat painful urination[
An infusion of the whole plant is used to treat gallstones[
A good ground-cover plant, spreading freely and tolerating some treading[
]. A carpeting plant, rooting as it spreads[
]. The plant spreads vigorously and can be used, within its native range, to stabilize soils on banks, roadsides etc[
Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse. Germination, which can be very poor, usually takes place within 1 - 3 months at 10°c[
]. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots, planting them out in the summer.
Division in spring or early autumn. Very easy, the plants can be divided at any time of the year if required, though it will need to be done in a greenhouse during the winter months.
Cuttings - mid-summer in a cold frame.