Recommended Books

A  FieldGuide to theNative Edible Plants of New Zealand

A practical field guide to New Zealand's native edible plants. Andrew Crowe

Gardener's Encyclopaedia of NZ Native Plants

Gardener's Encyclopaedia of NZ Native Plants by Cave, Paddison

Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand

Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand  by Poole and Adams

The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Native Trees

The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Native Trees by J.T. Salmon

Which Native Plant Can I Grow Here?

100 Best NZ Native Plants for Gardens

Click here to buy posters!

High Altitude Mountain Daisies (Celmisia Semicordata), Mt Cook NP, Canterbury, New Zealand
High Altitude Mountain Daisies (Celmisia Semicordata), Mt Cook NP, Canterbury, New Zealand
McCormack, Gareth
18 in. x 24 in.
Buy this Photographic Print at


 Juvenile and adult forms

One of the intriguing features of the New Zealand flora is the high percentage of plants which have a distinctly different leaf shape or growth habit as a juvenile, compared to that of the adult.
The theories put forward to account for this centre on the different environmental factors, both living and non living, present close to the ground, in the case of the juvenile, and higher in the canopy or under story, for the adult. A coarse or unpalatable leaf may hinder browsers close to the ground, while as a tree with a trunk over the height that a browser may reach may mean the juvenile leaf is inefficient and unnecessary in a high-light environment of the canopy.
Pseudopanax crassifolium lancewood is the most well known NZ native plant that adopts this habit. The juvenile may have an unbranched habit with a coarsely serrated leaf of dimensions 4cm wide and 35cm long, while the adult forms a branched canopy tree with a smooth edged leaf of dimensions 6cm wide and 25 cm long. In comparing the 2 leaf types one could be forgiven in thinking they were 2 distinct species. In fact, colonial botanists did classify them as distinct species.
Pseudopanax crassifolium Lancewood_adult 
The adult form
The juvenile form
pseudo_cra_ leaf2
A juvenile leaf with its toothed margin

Dacrydium kirkii monoao is a conifer which also has strikingly different leaf shapes as the picture shows.
Dacrydium kirkii monoao
The adult form is on the left, the juvenile on the right
These branches are on the same tree

Many plants adopt a divaricating or twisted form as a juvenile, then adopt a more conventional shrub or tree form when they mature. Kowhai, Totara, and Matai all do this.
Whatever the reasons or advantages to the plant for this feature, it reiterates the fact that  the New Zealand flora is one of the most interesting in the world.


 Tell a friend about this site because they will thank you for it.