Thursday, 10 January 2008

Plants - Reclaiming a Lost Heritage?

I've been doing a little research on the native plants of Otautau through the RSNZ website . I found 4 shrubs or small trees that used to grow along the waterways of Otautau or near the Longwood Range. Unfortunately, they seem no longer to exist in our locale due to pasture development, animal browsing or river erosion.

Here are some photos from the NZ Plant Conservation Network :

Melicytus flexuosus (left)- this shrub grows up to 5m tall and was noted to have grown on the bank of the river in Otautau in 1908. It is almost leafless but has very fragrant flowers when in bloom.

Olearia hectori also known as Hector's tree daisy (right) - grows 8-10m high and was noted on the bank of a creek in Otautau also in 1908. It grows in small pockets around Eastern Southland but many trees are not on protected land. Its status is now nationally vulnerable.

Olearia fragrantissima (left) - this shrub is similar to O. hectori but has a different leaf pattern and is noted for its fragrance. It grows 5-8m tall and was seen on the bank of a creek in Otautau in 1908. It is now sparsley distributed from Canterbury to Southland.

Pseudopanax edgerleyi or raukawa (right) is a large shrub or small tree that can grow 10m or taller. Maori used to used extract the fragrant oil from its leaves. It was noted on the flanks of the Longwood Range near Otautau in 1906. It is now facing a gradual decline nationally.

I would love to see these plants back in our town. It would be a good learning experience for the local kids as well as helping to stop the decline of these plants in Southland. What do you think? Leave a comment!


Sprout said...

I agree, these plants should be protected and promoted. Southland has a wide variety of endemic or rare plants and it would be nice to see them given more recognition locally. It is hoped that in time a rare trees/shrubs collection can be established at the Otautau arboretum. Many of the rare plants mentioned in the post can be seen in the rare and threatened plants garden at the Southland Community Nursery run by Chris and Brian Rance. To find out about visiting the garden or getting involved in the community nursery visit their website at:
I have seen young raukawa plants growing in the Longwoods. This species is highly palatable to deer and possums and is generally not present when browse pressure is high.

Otautau Blogger said...

You are a wealth of information. Thanks for giving the Rances' website too. I haven't ever seen these plants so will have to make a trip to their nursery.

If the AMMA needs assistance with growing plants, I can help.

Sprout said...

Chris Rance will be bringing some of the abovementioned rare local plants to the Arboretum fieldtrip next Saturday for those who would like to see what they look like. Also we will be planting some native trees/plants around the wetland area, so can people please bring spades.

Otautau Blogger said...


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