Art. IX—Notes on Plants observed during a visit to the North of Auckland. April, 1868.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, May 4, 1868.]
The beaches and landing places at the Kawau show traces of the traffic formerly connected with its copper-mines, in the many introduced plants which have become naturalized:—Chenopodium, Polycarpon, Coronopus, Erysimum, Amaranthus, Portulaca, and many other genera which follow the footsteps of man, are most abundant. The fine evergreen beech, Fagus fusca finds here its northern limit, Sapota costata attains larger dimensions than usual, one fine specimen having a trunk nearly 5 feet in diameter, its branches reaching the height of 60 feet. A Pittosporum, having the much-branched, twiggy habit of P. tenuifolium, with leaves which scarcely differ, except in their larger size and stouter petioles, has much larger capsules on longer peduncles, which are terminal, and usually solitary, capsules 2–3 valved, globose, acuminate. As with other Pittosporæ, to be mentioned in this paper, flowering specimens will be required, before its position and specific value can be satisfactorily determined. A small umbelliferous plant, Apium leptophyllum, F. Muell., (Helosciadium leptophyllum, D. C.) is found on and near a forest track in the interior, and might be considered indigenous, were it not for its occurrence with naturalized plants at the Bay of Islands, which suggests the propriety of further examination, before adding it to the list of native plants. It was not, however, observed on the Kawau beaches, where naturalized plants are so common, and where it would have been most likely to occur, had it been introduced. It is easily identified by the narrow, almost capillary segments of its small leaves, and numerous small, axillary and terminal umbels of minute white flowers and small
fruit. A native of Eastern Australia and North and South America, easily overlooked from its small size and inconspicuous habit.
A Pittosporum, differing from any described species, was found on Mount Mania A small erect tree, 25 feet high, with black bark, branchlets very short, stout, puberulous, ascending, leaves close set, ovate-lanceoate or elliptic-lanceolate, coriaceous, with the midrib curiously flattened beneath, acute or obtuse, partially clothed with ferruginous pubescence beneath, petioles 1/3 in. long, stout, erect; flowers not seen; peduncles terminal, usually solitary, stout, 1/2 in.-3/4 in. long, decurved. Capsules, 2-valved, ovate, acuminate at both ends, with slightly flattened sides, valves faintly 2-lobed, granulated, tips erect. Allied to P. crassifolium, but differing in habit and foliage, in the 2-valved acuminate capsule, and the smaller seeds. An undescribed Coprosma is found here, and is probably identical with a tree found by Mr. Colenso at Waipu; observed also in the Hunua, Kaipara, and elsewhere, but only immature fruit obtained. Height, 20–40 feet, branches fastigiate, or widely spreading, leaves not fetid, ovate, obtuse, rarely apiculate, suddenly narrowed into a winged petiole, purple beneath; fruit in small clusters, in the immature state, white and nearly transparent, veins distinct, reticulated, bark dark brown.
Near the summit of the mountain, a Celmisia, with rather broad leaves, was collected, the leaves are covered above with a thin pellicle, below with dense white tomentum. It is perhaps allied to C. Munroi, an alpine species not hitherto recorded in the Northern Island, but flowering specimens will be required before its identiy can be ascertained. The only noteworthy plants on the summit of the highest peak were Pomaderris Edgerleyi and Angelica rosœfolia.
At the Bay of Islands, an Elatine, with the leaves mostly sessile and slightly serate, was obtained. It is probably a form of E. Americana, the serratures become partially obliterated under pressure. A solitary specimen of Prasophyllum pumilum was picked, and other plants well known to the locality. Naturalized plants are found in great abundance at Kororariki, thirty species may be collected in a five minutes walk.
On cliffs in the Cavalhi passage, at Whangaroa, and various points on the extreme northern coast, Ipomœa tuberculata displayed its erect, showy, bright purple flowers, and 5-foliate leaves, in the greatest abundance. It is more attractive than many of its cultivated congeners, and would prove a welcome addition to the garden. In the Handbook of the New Zealand Flora, it is erroneously described as having rosy-red, drooping flowers.
At Matauri Bay, the introduced Ænothera stricta, so frequent on the volcanic hills about Auckland, forms a compact turf on the sands, just beyond high-water mark. Many other plants are naturalized here.
At Whangaroa, a fine Taxad, orginally discovered in the north by Mr. Colenso, and more recently in this and other localities by Dr. Hector and Mr. Buchanan, was identified with a tree lately observed on the Great Barrier Island, and which has been confused with Dacrydium Colensoi. The Whangaroa specimens are of somewhat larger size than any observed on the Great Barrier, some of them having trunks nearly 4 feet in diameter, and attaining the height of 80 feet. Many of the clusters of seeds
have their receptacles lined with a bright orange-coloured alveola, in which the faintly ribbed nuts are imbedded; the receptacles destitute of this curious lining were invariably filled with nuts of a lesser size.
The wood of this tree is extremely durable; Mr. Bell, of Whangaroa, stated, that round stems, the thickness of a man's arm, driven into the river-bed at Waimate, as palisades to a native pa, 80 years ago, were still perfectly sound.
Many other plants of interest were collected at Whangaroa. A fine new Melicytus, attains the height of 15 feet, with glossy, laurel-like leaves 4 in.–6 in. long, apparently identical with a form observed in the Hunua and other districts, where it forms a remarkable object when in flower; the flowers being densely crowded on the branches in fascicles of from 5 to 12, for the length of a foot or more, perianths large, campanulate, fleshy; berries large, changing from white, through purple and violet, to black, as they approach maturity. A curious and interesting Panax, allied to P. Lessonii, unites the simple and compound-leaved sections of the genus. As a shrub or small tree it attains the height of 10–15 feet, with whitish bark, leaves of two kinds, intermixed: 1–foliolate on petioles, 1/2 in.–2 in. long; lamina, 1 1/2 in.–2 in.; ovate-acuminate: 3–foliolate on petioles 3 in. long, leaflets sessile, 1 1/2 in.–2 1/2 in. long, ovate-acuminate or ovate-lanceolate, both forms distantly serrate, coriaceous, petioles exstipulate. Flowers not seen, umbels terminal, of 3–5 slender rays, fruit globose, racemed, styles, 5. Another undescribed Pittosporum was obtained here. An erect tree 20–30 feet high, with spreading, obovate, obtuse, coriaceous leaves, 1 1/2 in.–2 in. long, pubescent beneath. Flowers not seen, peduncles solitary, or in 2–4 flowered terminal umbels, stout, 1/2 in.–3/4 in. long, pubescent, capsules globose, clothed with ferruginous down, 2–valved. An undescribed Pittosporum, with the globose capsules, and short peduncles of P. Colensoi, but terminal, and frequently in 2–4 flowered umbels, instead of solitary and axillary, and differing in all other respects, is found on high ranges, and is precisely identical with a slender tree found on the Great Barrier. Panax anomalum, Libocedrus Doniana were also collected. Many noble specimens of Dracophyllum latifolium, 30 feet high, or more, were observed; and one of D. squarrosum, 25 feet, contrasting strongly in recollection with the diminutive specimens, some 3–4 feet high, which are not unfrequent in the vicinity of Auckland. The normal form of Haloragis tetragyna, Labill, was found sparingly, although long past flowering; in exposed rocky habitats it formed a small, compact, erect bush, 2 feet high; but amongst fern it assumed the prostrate habit of the var. diffusa, still, however, preserving the long and sharply-toothed leaves without modification. Colensoa physaloides, which was first discovered here, is not unfrequent, and attains a large size, its leaves being sometimes met with, a foot long or more.
Many naturalized plants abound at Monganui; the most conspicuous being Asphodelus fistulosus, Solanum, virginianum? Scabiosa atropurpurea, and above all, Verbena officinalis, which covers large patches of ground with a dense vegetation 4–5 feet high. Two solitary specimens of Prasophyllum pumilum were obtained here, and another new Pittosporum, belonging to a different section of the genus to the forms already noticed.
Pittosporum Gilliesianum, n. sp., a small shrub 1–3 feet high, with slender branches, leaves linear-lanceolate, acute, rarely obtuse, densely crowded, entire, slightly membranous, erect or spreading, scarcely petioled, 3/4 in.– 1 1/4 in. long, 1/16 in.–1/8 in. wide, branches and leaves downy when young. Flowers terminal in small clusters of 3–6, rarely solitary; peduncles very slender, 1/4 in.–3/8 in. long, clothed with incurved hairs, 1–flowered; sepals subulate, with membranous margins, finely hairy; petals subulate, reflexed, slender, yellow with a purple stripe down the middle; capsules erect, ovoid-acuminate, or conical, not compressed, downy, 2–valved, valves membranous, at length deciduous, the nuts usually retaining their position on the peduncle, long after the valves have fallen, tips of the valves straight.
The branches are rarely whorled; a singular and unique specimen picked by Mr. Gillies, has the branches dichotomously whorled, with capsules in the vortices of the secondary whorls. It is allied to P. reflexum, from which it differs in the peduncles being uniformly 1–flowered in the erect clustered peduncles, which are never compressed or have the tips recurved.
I have named this interesting plant in compliment to my esteemed friend, T. B. Gillies, Esq., who was my companion at the time of its discovery, and at whose suggestion, and partly by whose advice the excursion was undertaken.
The country between Parengarengo and Spirits' Bay, is for the most part of an uninteresting character, Pomaderris Edgerleyi and Prasophyllum pumilum, were observed sparingly in several distant localities, and a showy Hibiscus, with very large bright-yellow flowers, was abundant in Spirits' Bay. This plant is not mentioned in the Handbook; but I am informed it was originally discovered by the Rev. W. Taylor and Mr. Colenso, many years back. It may have been introduced by a vessel wrecked on the coast. At Tapotopoto Bay, a dwarf Melicytus, allied to M. macrophyllus, and identical with a plant picked on Mount Camel by Mr. Buchanan (found also on the Great Barrier) was collected. Coprosma petiolata? and a procumbent species allied to C. Cunninghami, but without flower or fruit, were found on the sands, also C. Baueriana, and Sapola costata.
A diminutive form of Gleichenia flabellata formed large patches amongst the stunted Leptospermum, which clothed the hill sides and elevated open ground, and the rare Todea Africana was abundant in open but sheltered gullies, between Hooper's Point and Parengarenga; its rigid character made it of easy recognition at some distance, and reminded one forcibly of the European Osmunda, to which it is nearly allied.
Perhaps no part of the island has been so closely examined for plants as the district between Whangarei and the North Cape; it is therefore not improbable that some of the forms which I have attempted to discriminate in this paper, may have been observed by other botanists, although I am ignorant of such observations having been published.