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

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


Click picture for name and larger picture


New Zealand plant flowers

The primary function of flowers is attraction of a pollinator to transfer pollen to the female stigma. The pollen contains the male gamete that fertilizes the female ova to eventually produce a seed that once dispersed from the mother plant germinates into a new individual.

 The features and form of flowers is related to the characteristics of the pollinating fauna: birds, ants, bees, flies, moths.

People’s basic empathy with this process is what helps make the allure and display of flowers so striking. The scent of the nectar and vibrant ‘look at me’ colours creates an attractive sight.

Sophora microphyllaKowhai

The bird pollinated New Zealand flowers are large and bright. The bright red flowers of Pohutukawa and Rata ablaze in summer, Sophora’s yellow bells singing the chorus of spring, Puriri’s year round display, Flax’s wind wands and all with petals and a flower architecture perfectly suited to pollination by native birds.

metrosideros-perforata & BeeMetrosideros perforata and bee pollinating.

A characteristic of New Zealand flowers is that many New Zealand plants have small, white and inconspicuous flowers. The smaller flowers are adapted to pollination by insects or the wind. Small white or green flowers are the best way to attract the attention of a passing insect. White petals act as solar collectors, creating a warm micro-climate that encourages the small insect to visit on a chilly morning. In alpine plants, the flowers may be larger but are mostly white in colour. There is a lack of blue, purple and red hues in the NZ flowers and those that are brightly coloured are closely related to other members present in Australia and can be viewed as relatively recent arrivals.

Less than 1% of NZ flowering plants are clearly adapted to bird pollinators compared to up to 15% of Australian plants.

Clianthus-puniceus-flowerClianthus puniceus Kaka beak

The smaller flowers have adaptations that encourage visits by unspecialised pollinators. The flowers are often radially symmetrical, can be approached from any direction, and do not require the pollinator to undertake precise movements. The pollen and stigmas are freely exposed.

In most parts of the world, bees are the most important group of insect pollinators and are noted for their precision, complexity, and diligence of operations. Advanced groups of Bees are lacking in New Zealand . The  species of native bees are short tongued and primitive. Beetles, moths, flies, spiders and ants are all important pollinators.

It is likely that the non-specific nature of the pollinators encourages self-pollination, which plants do not favour, as the offspring of self-pollination show little variety in offspring. To counter this, separation of the sexes (dioeciousness) is favoured. This means by having male and female flowers on separate plants a strategy to ensure cross-pollination is established.

The small size of the new Zealand flowers is often offset by being massed into large dense inflorescences e.g. Hebe, Pimelia, and Compositae.

Kirks tree daisy Brachyglottis kirkii Kirks tree daisy showing the characteristic head of flowers.


Dioecious plants have male and female flowers on separate plants. A characteristic of the the New Zealand flora is the high % of plants that have the sexes on separate plants (dioecious). Approx 12-13% of our flora are dioecious. (Britain 2-5%, South Australia , 3.9%., Hawaii 5%).

Dioeciousness is related to unspecialised pollinators as in order to avoid self pollination, that is likely to occur if many insects can effect pollination, separation of the sexes is encouraged.

Cop-grandifolia-maleCoprosma grandifolia male


Cop-grandifolia-femalecoprosma grandifolia female

The significance of dioeciousness to the propagator of seeds is that female plants need to be sourced if seed is to be collected.
Dioeciousness of plants account for the variability in seeding from year to year that some species exhibit because seeding will be determined by synchronizing the time at which the male and female parts are functional. Rimu may go 7-12 years before seed on females is produced in abundance. These years are termed mast years.
When a male tree may be some distance from a female tree, the environmental conditions that determine flowering would be more variable in separate trees, some distance from each other, than the same tree. The fact that pollen from a distant tree must fertilise a female tree, may put the successful reproduction and production of viable seed under stress. Logging of a population and a reduction in total density of the adult trees and total gamete production will reduce the likelihood of fertilisation. This seems to be the case in Monoao (Dacrydium kirkii ), a dioecious species of conifer that grows in Northland's kauri forests. Monoao has become relatively rare in the wild with its natural range vastly reduced to remnant populations in Coromandel, Northland and Little Barrier Island.

If a plant is grown for the beauty of its seeds (Porokaiwhiri) or flowers (Clematis) growing from seed will produce some individuals who are not of the desired sex. In these cases reproduction by cutting is suggested.

An excess of males or females may exist in natural populations of many plants.

For more on New Zealand flowers check out this PDF powerpoint presentation on the Features of New Zealand Flowers

New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants

 New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants   There is nothing more evocative of New Zealand "bush" than ferns, from tall tree ferns to epiphytes and species which sprawl over the ground or nestle in the dim light of crevices. This volume covers some 184 species plus the 22 related plants known as "fern allies" to enable ready identification.

Growing Gardens for Free: A Plant Propagation Guide for New Zealand

Growing Gardens for Free: A Plant Propagation Guide for New ZealandEveryone can grow plants for free and this informative book shows how to propagate over 1000 common plants, with specific detailed instructions on over 500 of the world's most popular ornamental plants. The book is illustrated with both practical step-by-step photographs of propagation techniques and the plants themselves. There are also extensive tables covering 1000 plants with information on which propagation technique to use - seed, cuttings, grafting, division - and then details of temperature requirements, time to germination/strike, % strike rate and time of year to propagate. The information has been gleaned by the author from over 25 years as a propagator and hybridiser, specialising in ornamental shrubs, such as rhododendrons and azaleas. He shares this knowledge through a clear and concise text.

Growing New Zealand Plants, Shrubs and Trees

Growing New Zealand Plants, Shrubs and Trees 

A completely revised and updated version of Muriel Fisher's original text first published in 1970. Changes in garden styles and nomenclature have necessitated the revision, as has the increased knowledge and sophisitication of New Zealand gardeners. It includes over 120 photographs.

Other useful links : Germination strategies     A New Zealand garden   Native Grasses   Cultivation Guide    Divaricating plants    Juvenile & Adult Forms     Dioecious plants      NZ Botanists & plant names         Proverbs & quotes      Special features     Photographs    Information for identification




SpecieAgathis australis       Alectryon excelsa     Alseuosmia banksii Aristotelia serrata    Arthropodium cirratum Beilschmiedia tarairi Beilschmiedia tawa  Brachyglottis repanda Carmichaelia    Carpodetus serrata Coprosma         Cordyline australis     Cordyline banksii.  Corynocarpus laevigatus    Cyathodes fasciculata    Dacrydium cupressinum  Dacrydium kirkii         Dianella nigra     Dodonaea viscosa Dysoxylum spectabile Elaeocarpus dentatus    Elingamita johnsonii  Entelea arborescens    Fuchsia excorticta     Fuchshia procumbens  Gaultheria               Geniostoma ligustrifolium Hebe  Hedycarya arborea               Hoheria populnea    Kunzea ericoides   Laurelia novae zelandiae     Lophomyrtus  Libocedrus plumosa Leptospermum scoparium            Knightia excelsa    Macropiper excelsum Meryta sinclarii    Melicope ternata Melicope simplex    Melicytus ramiflorus          Metrosideros excelsa  Myoporum laetum    Myrsine australis    Nothofagus       Phormium tenax Phyllocladus trichomanoides    Prumnopitys    Pittosporum          Pisonia brunonnianum    Podocarpus dacrydioides          Colensoa physaloides  Planchonella costata      Pseudopanax    Pseudowintera colorata          Pomaderris kumaraho   Rhabdothamnus solandri        Rhopalostylis sapida    Rubus                 Schefflera digitata    Solanum aviculare    Sophora microphylla    Tecomanthespeciosa   Toronia toru             Vitex lucens     Weinmannia



Scenic New Zealand Blank Greeting Cards   


Classic Walks of Scenic New Zealand Book


Rainbow Forest - A Magic Forest Walk - New Zealand Nature Sounds Music CD

Click photo for name and larger picture