New Zealand burr – planting, care and tips

The easy-care, blue-green New Zealand burr quickly forms thick leaf carpets with bizarre fruit decorations in the garden. You should pay attention to this when planting it.

Profile of New Zealand burr:

Scientific name: Acaena buchananii

Plant family: rose family (Rosaceae)

Other names: pirripirri burr

Sowing time: Spring

Planting time: Spring

Flowering period: June to August

Location: sunny to partially shaded

Soil quality: stony to sandy, nutrient-poor to moderately nutrient-rich,

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: ground cover, embankments, grave planting, group planting, greening surfaces, natural garden,rock garden, cemetery

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-23 °C / -5 °F)

Bee and insect friendly:

Plant characteristics and classification of New Zealand burr

Plant order, origin and occurrence of New Zealand burr

The New Zealand burr (Acaena buchananii) from the rose family (Rosaceae) occurs in nature only in the Southern Hemisphere. Above all, it is found in New Zealand, where it is characteristic of the loose, grassy meadows.

Characteristics of New Zealand burr


The perennial herbaceous plants reach heights of 3 to 5 centimeters (1.2 to 2 in) without flowers and 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 in) with flowers. Thanks to partially underground rhizomes, they grow very dense carpets very quickly.


The alternate leaves on the stem are hairy, pinnate and lobed or toothed. They reach heights of 5 to 15 centimeters (2 to 6 in). They shine blue-green and are at least winter green, often also evergreen.


The white, spherical flowers are small, only 1 to 2 centimeters (0.4 to 0.8 in) in diameter, and relatively inconspicuous. They open between June and August, smell light and stand above the foliage.


Much more striking and ornamental than the flowers are the initially yellowish-green, later red-brown-yellow, with spiked bristles, spherical fruits. With these bristles, the falling seeds can hold on to the fur or plumage of animals and thus spread to other locations.

New Zealand burr – cultivation and care


Sunny locations are preferred, but in warm areas, the place where the plant grows may also be partially shaded.


New Zealand burr needs a fresh, rather nutrient-poor and above all airy soil. Heavy, waterlogged soils are not suitable unless you make them more permeable by adding coarse sand or grit before planting.


If you prefer to plant the flower in the ground in spring, the perennial has enough time to take root until winter. The planting distance should be 20 to 30 centimeters (8 to 12 in).


Moisture always troubles the New Zealand burr, which is why permeable soil is so important. If the location is correct, the perennials are more resistant to the cold and only need a minimum of maintenance.


The propagation is easily accomplished by cutting the runners. Sowing is also possible. Since Acaena buchananii is one of the cold germs, the spreaded seeds need special treatment: they must first be warm for two to four weeks (18 to 22 °C / 64 to 72 °F) and well moist, then cold for four to six weeks (-4 to +4 °C / 25 to 39 °F).

Diseases and pests

New Zealand burr usually has no problems with plant diseases and pests.


New Zealand burr can be a bit sensitive to black frost. Protect them early with brushwood in areas at risk of black frost. Otherwise, the leaves may freeze, but the plants will sprout fresh in spring.

Use in the garden

New Zealand burr are reliable and pretty ground cover plants, but they can make life difficult or impossible for their neighboring plants, which are not quite as competitive. They fit in steppe plantations, in the rock garden or on open spaces. They are also suitable for greening flagstone paths with wide joints. Acaena buchananii can be combined with perennials such as red moss stonecrop (Sedum album ‘Coral Carpet’), spiked speedwell (Veronica spicata), Alyssum montanum ’mountain gold’ or Anthemis marschalliana (speical variety of chamomile). Extensive overgrown areas can give some relief with trees and shrubs such as flowering quince (Chaenomeles), bluebeard (Caryopteris), beautyberry (Callicarpa), chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), deutzias or ceanothus. New Zealand burr are planted in small, in the bed, or larger as ground cover, groups.

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