Saturday, 6 November 2010

Endangered Tree Daisy

Olearia hectori is an endangered tree daisy found only in New Zealand. It grows to about 10 meters high and can live to 150 years old. Its natural habitat is on valley floors and nearby rivers. The wild population exists only in pockets around the South Island however it faces decline because it cannot rejuvenate due to the invasive grasses that have taken over its habitat.

A century ago, at least one specimen was recorded in Otautau along a creek or stream. There are no known wild trees any more in the immediate Otautau area, but I was lucky to get a couple of plants from Pukerau Nursery a few years ago. With the help of a friend, I was able to grow 25 more plants by taking cuttings. The flowers and seeds of these plants are tiny and challenging to photograph but here are a few pictures taken last spring and this spring.
Olearia hectori flowers
Olearia hectori flower head nearly spent.
Olearia hectori seed head. The size of this seed head is probably smaller than the eraser on the end of a pencil. You can imagine the impossible odds of a tiny seed trying to sprout against the big grasses which are all over Southland.

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