A practical field guide to New Zealand's native edible plants. Andrew Crowe
Gardener's Encyclopaedia of NZ Native Plants by Cave, Paddison
Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand by Poole and Adams
The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Native Trees by J.T. Salmon
High Altitude Mountain Daisies (Celmisia Semicordata), Mt Cook NP, Canterbury, New Zealand
18 in. x 24 in.
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The Botanical features of New Zealand plants.
What are the features of New Zealand native plants that can be thought of as being special to New Zealand?
Dioeciousness: Male and female parts on separate plants.
About 20% of New Zealand native plants show male and female individuals. However in an area of forest we could find about 50% of the species showing this feature . Common plants that express dioeciousness include all of the Coprosma, Pseudopanax, and Pittosporum as well as species such as rimu, mahoe, putaputaweta, porokaiwhiri.
Juvenile and adult forms.
The most well known is lancewood Pseudopanax crassifolius but there are many others including matai, kahikatea, Coprosma arboreus and Dacrydium kirkii.
Divarication or filiramulation (small leafed twiggy shrubs). The small leaved Coprosma are the most obvious. About 20% of New Zealand plants exhibit this form. Of all the plants in the world that are divaricating about 60% of these plants are endemic to New Zealand.
New Zealand's unique forms: cabbage trees, flax, tree ferns,
Tmesipteris (an ancient remnant), found growing on Ponga
Carmichaelia (the leafless brooms),
Plants with their headquarters in New Zealand (Coprosma, Hebe, Pseudopanax),
Plants with limited distribution (The offshore islands; particularly Northland's), North West Nelson, Whangaroa and North Cape. Just about every province of New Zealand will have a plant that is limited to that particular area.
Small white inconspicuous flowers on many species,
Tree daisies. Usually daisies are small shrubs or annuals that are about knee or waist height. However in New Zealand and Australia there are daisies that grow the size of small trees. Brachyglottis, Olearia and Senecio have individuals tall enough to be called tree daisies.
Evergreen. Only 11 new Zealand species loose their leaves over winter. The most common are kowhai(Hemideciduous), lacebark and Tree Fuschia. The vast majority of trees and shrubs are evergreen for all of the year. In Northland these species are only deciduous for a week or two and in Southland they may be deciduous for about 4 months of winter.
Of course the big question is : Why and by what process do these features occur in New Zealand ?
The answer rests with our isolation. 80 million years of isolation in the south-west Pacific, free of mammals, only colonised by humans in the last 1200 years and a set of environmental and climatic circumstances have created plants that are truely unique to New Zealand.