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Two-spined Acaena

Acaena ovalifolia

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Crab Apple, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Firethorn, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Cherry, Japanese Quince, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Marsh Cinquefoil, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Avens, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Rock Whitebeam, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Downy Rose, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Wall Cotoneaster, Water Avens, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
5 centimetres tall
Gardens, moorland, roadsides, sand dunes, seaside, woodland.

Variable in colour, no petals
Globular flowerheads. Flowers are without petals. Each flower has 2 spines. White stamens.
The fruit is globular and spiny. The spines are purplish-red. Fruits measure up to 3cm in diameter.
A mat-forming perennial with bright green, pinnate leaves, up to 12cm long. The toothed leaflets are in 6 to 8 opposite pairs, plus a terminal leaflet. The young stems are hairy and often tinged red. Garden escape species.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


The two-spined acaena, also known as the oval-leaved piripiri or purple carpet, is a small perennial plant that is native to New Zealand. It belongs to the rose family and is known for its attractive purple or bronze foliage and small, pink or white flowers. Acaena ovalifolia is a low-growing plant that spreads quickly and is often used as a groundcover in gardens. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. The plant is drought-tolerant and thrives in full sun to partial shade. Acaena ovalifolia is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as slugs and snails. The plant is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Two-spined Acaena, also known as Acaena ovalifolia, is a small perennial plant that is native to New Zealand. This plant is a member of the Rosaceae family, which includes other well-known plants such as roses, apples, and strawberries.

The Two-spined Acaena is an evergreen plant that grows low to the ground, reaching a height of only 4-6 inches. It has a creeping habit and can spread out to form a dense mat of foliage. The leaves of this plant are small, oval-shaped, and bright green. They are arranged in a basal rosette and are covered in tiny, stiff bristles.

One of the most striking features of the Two-spined Acaena is its flowers. The plant produces small, reddish-purple flowers on slender stems that rise above the foliage. The flowers are followed by small, flattened seed heads that are covered in sharp, needle-like spines. These spines give the plant its common name, as it has two spines per seed head.

The Two-spined Acaena is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. It is drought-tolerant and can grow in poor, rocky soils. It is also tolerant of salt spray, making it a great choice for coastal gardens. This plant is also a popular choice for rock gardens, as it can grow well in between rocks and stones.

The Two-spined Acaena is also a low maintenance plant and requires little care. It is not affected by pests or diseases and does not need to be fertilized. It can be propagated by seed or by dividing the clumps of foliage. If you want to control its spread, you can trim it back after blooming.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Two-spined Acaena also has medicinal properties. The plant has been used by the Māori people of New Zealand for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. The leaves and stems of the plant were crushed and applied to wounds to promote healing and prevent infection. It was also used as a pain reliever for headaches and other types of pain.

The Two-spined Acaena is also a great plant for wildlife. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, making it an important plant for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The seed heads also provide food for small birds and other wildlife.

One thing to keep in mind when growing the Two-spined Acaena is that it can be invasive in some areas. It is considered an invasive species in many parts of the world, including parts of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. If you live in an area where the plant is considered invasive, it is best to avoid planting it or to plant it in a contained area where it cannot spread.

It's worth noting that while the Two-spined Acaena is generally considered a low-maintenance plant, it does require regular watering during periods of drought to maintain its evergreen appearance. Also, as it does have a creeping habit, it may require regular maintenance to keep it contained in a specific area if you don't want it to spread.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Two-spined Acaena is not suitable for all types of gardens. It's not recommended for gardens with heavy foot traffic or play areas, as the spines on the seed heads can be quite sharp and can cause discomfort or injury.

When it comes to planting, the Two-spined Acaena prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. It can be planted in the spring or fall, and once established it will return year after year.

In summary, the Two-spined Acaena is a beautiful and hardy perennial plant that is native to New Zealand. It's a great option for gardeners looking for a low-growing, evergreen ground cover. It requires minimal care, and its unique flowers and spiny seed heads make it an interesting addition to any garden. However, it's important to keep in mind that it can be invasive in some areas and it's not suitable for gardens with heavy foot traffic.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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