|Colensoa physaloides Koru NZ hydrangea.|
Koru. Colensoa physaloides syn. Pratia physaloides
Shrub to 1.5 m. Leaves 8-18 cm, similar in shape to an Hydrangea but more soft and tender.
The flowers and berries are purple or violet.
North of Whangarei.
Colensoa physaloides natural distribution is from about the Bay of Islands north and the offshore islands of Northland. Within this area it's distribution is localised to damp, shady spots, often in gullies.
Colensoa physaloides is a succulent, herbaceous shrub which has a similar leaf shape and size to that of the unrelated Hydrangea macrophylla. It's branches stand upright to form a 1-1.5m. bush. The flowers, which are to be 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 shiney purple or blue colour. The seed can be found within the hollow berry in large amounts. It is very fine and is yellow or brown. Collect ripe berries and rip open to reveal hundres of minute seeds. Shake onto paper. Not necessary to clean. Sow straight away on a fine seed raising mix. They germinate within 2-3 weeks after sowing. Highly palatable to slugs and snails.
Disturbance and browsing by cattle, goats etc. and the loss of forest habitat has placed it on the Nationally threatened plant list.
Cultivation: A damp, shadey position. Frost tender. Often grows in disturbed soils. Responds well to nitrogenous fertilisers. Suitable as an indoor plant with similar requirements to Maidenhair ferns.