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Kia ora and hello again.
This month's newsletter features two of Northland's special plants. The Tai Tokerau or North Auckland peninsula has the greatest plant variety of any New Zealand province. This is primarily due to its warm climate, variety of soils and geography, isolated offshore islands and remnants of ancient landmasses.
Pratia physaloides= Colensoa physaloides, Koru,
NZ Hydrangea (but its not!)
Shrub growing to 1.5 m. Leaves 8-18 cm, similar to a Hydrangea. Soft and tender foliage.
Flowers and berries blue, purple or violet. Pratia physaloides' natural distribution is from Bay of Islands north and the offshore islands of Northland. Within this area, it is localised to damp, shady spots, often in gullies.
P. physaloides is a succulent, herbaceous shrub, which has a similar leaf shape and size to that of the unrelated Hydrangea macrophylla. Its branches stand upright to form a 1-1.5m. bush. The flowers, found growing in racemes below the leaves and directly off the main stems, are 3-5 cm. long and lilac in colour. These appear in Feb - March. The berries are one of the most striking of our native plants, being 10-15mm. in diameter and a bright, shiny purple or blue colour. The seed can be found in large amounts within the hollow berry. It is yellow or brown and very fine. Collect ripe berries and open them to reveal hundreds of minute seeds. Shake onto paper. It is not necessary to clean. Sow straight away on a fine seed raising mix. They germinate within 2-3 weeks after sowing. Plants highly palatable to slugs and snails.
Disturbance and browsing by cattle, goats etc. and the loss of forest habitat has placed Pratia physaloides on the nationally threatened plant list. The species is an indicator plant for the health of the forest. Browsing pests: goats, possums, pigs, cattle etc. find it very palatable, so it only survives in forests free of mammalian browsers.
Cultivation: A damp, shady position. Frost tender. Often grows in disturbed soils. Responds well to nitrogenous fertilisers. Similar requirements to maidenhair and soft ferns.
Pouteria costata= Planchonella novo-zelandica = Planchonella costata, orewa, tawapou, pou
Tree reaching 20m, trunk to 1m. diam. Leaves 5-10 cm long x 5cm, shiny green. An attractive red berry 2.5-4cm long, of two or three hard curved seeds. While not confined to Northland, its centre of distribution is the Northland peninsula.
It is found on coastal headlands from North Cape to Tolaga Bay. After pohutukawa, this must be New Zealand's most beautiful coastal tree. It grows in association with pohutukawa, karaka and taraire on the northern coasts. Particularly lustrous leaves with a bright red fruit to 3cm containing up to four seeds.
Species of Planchonella are found throughout the Pacific, Eastern Asia and Malaysia. The New Zealand species is closely related to the species in Fiji and Norfolk Island. In Tahiti, the Marquesas, Samoa and Rarotonga, Planchonella logs were used as rollers for the big sea going canoes and in Samoa P. torricellensis trunks were made into dugout hulls.
The Waipapa canoe is reputed to have landed at Otengi Bay in Doubtless Bay. The captain ordered his men to take the rollers that came with the canoe and plant them on the nearby hillside saying, "Waipapa will go to sea no more. Let her sleep". The Planchonella trees are there to this day as a memorial. This story is attached to colonies of tawapou trees at Houhoura Harbour and Aurere Beach. The Mamaru canoe, whose descendants live around Doubtless Bay and the Awanui-Kaitaia areas, brought the important ancestor Pou. It is possible the name Tawa a pou could refer to him. The name Tawa is similar to Tava in Futuna, Tonga, Samoa and Niue, Dawa in Fiji.
When the tawapou trees were pointed out to the Rev Joseph Matthews, a pioneer missionary of Kaitaia, he said that the fruits were like the olive of the Bible. Olive became oriwa/orewa to the Maori.
A legend from East Cape tells when the Takitimu canoe left Hawaiiki, a flock of parrots decided to follow. They filled their crops with tawapou berries as food for the journey. They landed at East Cape and disgorged the seeds, which grew, and as time went on, the tawapou spread along the coast.
Tawapou berries contain up to four seeds
Whangaroa Houseboat Holidays
Whangaroa Houseboat Holidays offer a unique escape, far from the "madding crowd", in beautiful Whangaroa Harbour - the perfect environment for the relaxed holiday getaway that house boating provides.
Whangaroa scenery is awe-inspiring. Towering sheer bluffs and volcanic rock formations protrude through steep forested shores, their colours reflected in tranquil water. Whangaroa remains an unspoiled natural resource, ideal for rest and relaxation. Sit back in the lounge and enjoy the view, or fish, dive and swim from your doorstep! Cook your catch on the barbecue or use the spacious kitchen. Go ashore and spend some time exploring, then row back to your home on the water.
Video of Neil's Family and their Whangaroa Houseboat Holiday. This is an excellent video as it captures the very best Whangaroa has to offer. Very good production values. 10Mbytes. 3 mins long and opens with windows media player. I highly recommend youhave a look at this from here
For full details for a unique experience of holidaying on a houseboat visit the website from here
Bushmansfriend offers many opportunities to experience Whangaroa's natural world.
Harbour tours, bushwalks, water taxi and kayak hire
NZ Plant Conservation Network – vote for your favourite native plant
NZPCN is running its annual native plant web-based poll to inspire interest in our native flora and to raise awareness of the fantastic website. You can vote up to 5 times for the same plant or chose 5 different species. Last years winner was Lepidium oleraceum (Cook's
scurvy grass). Results will be announced at the Network conference in November in Auckland. Voting is open till 20th November 2006. www.nzpcn.org.nz
New Zealand Forest and Bird Society Bird of the Year Poll
The votes are all in and the fantail/piwakawaka is officially New Zealand's favourite Bird of the Year.
The fantail/piwakawaka came first with 458 votes - just a beak ahead of last year's winner, the tui, with 453 votes.
Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager, Kevin Hackwell, says many New Zealanders are very fond of the fantail/piwakawaka's cheeky antics and agile aerial manoeuvres. "The piwakawaka is a bird we all get a great deal of enjoyment from seeing. It is fantastic to see this amazing little bird up close as they follow us through the bush, or even in our own gardens.
With the fantail and tui taking the top two places, it is clear that New Zealanders have a strong appreciation for those birds that are relatively common, and that we can see and enjoy in our everyday lives."
The Bird of the Year Top Ten are: fantail/piwakawaka (458 votes), tui (453), kereru (348), kakapo (229), takahe (180), kea (172), kokako (168), bellbird/korimako (116), kiwi (109), pukeko (81)
Bushmansfriend and Fishpond Top Selling recommended books
With Christmas and the season of giving not too far away, how about one of these books as a gift for someone with interest and passion on New Zealand plants?. Internet shopping avoids the rush and bustle of the Mall.
A full list of my recommended books on New Zealand nature can be viewed atthis link
The Opua House
Choose The Opua House as your luxury accommodation in the Bay of Islands - it's a great base from which to explore the local area. You can stay for a few days or a few weeks, it's up to you. You might also like to check out some of our special packages, perfect for romantics, gourmet lovers, sailors and explorers! Check out the website.
Waiheke Island Accommodation
The Loft at 372 Estate - the perfect romantic getaway for two.
Built above the Olive Oil cellar on 372 Estate this separate loft-style self-contained accommodation in a stunning hilltop setting overlooks olive groves, vineyards and the waters of the Hauraki Gulf - a casual and comfortable rural retreat.
Enjoy a soak in the outdoor bath then curl up in front of the log fire with a glass of Waiheke's finest. Peace and Privacy - you deserve it! Or venture out to enjoy the beaches, wineries and coastal walks. Nearby is famous Stonyridge Vineyard and beautiful Onetangi Beach - both within walking distance of the 10 acre olive grove which is 372 Estate.
The ideal escape - enjoy feeling relaxed, refreshed, revived, restored! Contact us directly for further details or your personal requests.
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Until next time,
look after yourself..... and enjoy New Zealand's natural world.
New Zealand Nature Walks
New Zealand Plants
Whangaroa Houseboat Rentals
Campbell Rd. Totara North
RD2 Kaeo 0479
Northland New Zealand
Phone: 09 4051844