Aciphylla aurea forms dense tufts of slender leaves, which are viciously sharp. Male and female flowers are on separate plants, but both are striking, usually off white or golden yellow, and with the tall spike also covered in vicious spines. Aciphylla aurea is a mid-sized species with golden leaves. When it flowers in November-December, it sends up an armoured spike with a head of many small white flowers. A showy addition to rock gardens; an architectural plant that can be placed to keep unwelcome visitors at bay.
The plant is endemic to New Zealand and is found mainly throughout the east coast of South Island in mountainous (alpine) habitats, in well-drained soils including habitats like rocky outcrops, and tussock grasslands. Golden speargrass prefers well-drained alpine soils, which are windswept and prone to extreme temperatures, such as dry grasslands, and tussock grasslands. Frost tolerant.
Aciphylla species are home to the critically endangered Canterbury Knobbed Weevil (Hadramphus tuberculatus) endemic to the South Island of New Zealand and presently only found in a population of less than 100 in Burkes Pass.
It is a taonga species whose leaves were traditionally gathered by hand, plaited, and heated over many days to extract a highly aromatic resin. For more information on its use, follow this link.