the Botany of Otago,
The Province of Otago possesses an equable climate, and to this cause may be ascribed its evergreen Flora. The mountain ranges, also, by influencing the humidity of the climate, cause a great variety in the Flora, by forming humid and arid districts.
The general facies of the vegetation of the Province, on its eastern watershed, is grassy; the greater area being open grass land, with comparatively smaller areas of bush along the coast line, and in the gullies of the mountain ranges; whereas, on the western water-shed the whole country from the sea to an altitude of 3000 feet, on the mountains, is covered with bush.
It is evident, that at no distant time the greater part of the Province was covered with forest. On many of the grassy ridges may still be found the remains of large trees; and over large areas, the surface is dotted with the little hillocks, and corresponding hollows produced by the upturned roots of trees which have been blown over, generally in the line of the prevailing winds, after their destruction by fire, and no doubt there have been many denudations and reproductions of bush.
At the beginning of the settlement, large tracts of the Province were being reclothed with bush, but as the country was opened for cattle and sheep runs, this new growth was again burnt off, and a luxuriant growth of native grasses appeared, without seed being sown.
In 1852, much of what is now the finest grass country, on the Clutha, Tuapeka, Waitahuna, Pomahaka, and Wyndham districts, was covered by an impenetrable growth of shrubs and young trees.
The further extension of bush, therefore, has been arrested by settlement; and the still existing portion will gradually disappear, in the process of clearing the land for cultivation, and for use as fuel, building, and fencing.
The grasses of Otago are numerous, and valuable for fattening stock; and they would probably repay the trouble and expense of being improved by cultivation, as they might prove more suitable to the climate, and more nutritious than English grasses.
So much depends on the nature of the soil, and humidity of the climate, that the finest grass is often found at considerable altitudes: thin clayey soil, or light soil on recent gravel terraces, under the influence of arid winds, will produce but a poor pasture of very few species; while in the little valleys of mountain ranges formed of the primitive rock formations, at altitudes even exceeding 2000 feet, the pasture will be abundant and consist of many species of grasses.
Nothing can show greater ignorance of grass conservation, than the repeated burning of the pasture in arid districts, which is so frequently practised. The finer species of grass, having fine fibrous roots ramifying near the surface, are either destroyed by the fire, or afterwards by sun or frost; while the coarser tussock grasses, Spear grass (Aciphylla), and many plants worthless as pasture, having large succulent roots strike deep in the soil, and are preserved. Much of the grass land of Otago has been thus deteriorated since its occupation, by fire, and it is no wonder that many of the runs-require eight acres to feed one sheep, according to an official estimate. It is a fallacy to suppose that grass country requires repeated burning to clear the surface of the excess of plants, as the old and withered grass forms shelter to the young shoots, protecting them from parching winds, sun, and frosts. It is no doubt owing to the protection afforded, in a similar manner, by the snows of winter and spring, that the most mountainous parts of the Province, up to the line of perpetual snow, if free from bush, are valuable as summer pasture.
At an altitude of from 2000 to 4000 feet, according to latitude, will be found a belt of coarse unnutritious tussock grasses, but above this in the Alpine zone, many Alpine grasses are found, which though short, are succulent and nutritious. This Alpine zone is much frequented by sheep in summer, the highest ridges having sheep tracks on them. On Mount Alta, near the Wanaka Lake, sheep feed at an altitude of 6000 feet, and on the Kaikoras, in the Province of Marlborough, at an altitude of 8000 feet.
Grasses. The following grasses have been collected in Otago, and the most of them were named by Dr. Hooker.
For the present purpose they are divided into three classes:
First quality,—as forming, naturally, the best pasture.
Second quality,—those inferior in quality, and restricted distribution.
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|Poa australis, Poa breviglumis.||Valuable small tussock grasses.|
|Hierochloe redolens.||A fragrant solitary grass, abundant in the river valleys.|
|Dichelachne crinita.||A very valuable grass, forming fine tussocks, where few other species exist, but solitary, in thick swards of other grasses.|
|Agrostis avenoides,||Valuable small tussock grasses.|
|Kœleria cristata.||A good grass, resembling foxtail, shining, solitary.|
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|Trisetum antarcticum.||A tufted grass, common in good pasture.|
Second Quality, several being good cattle grasses:
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|Alopecurus geniculatus.||(Foxtail, found also as an Alpine.)|
|Danthonia Cunninghami,||Snow grasses.|
|" semi-annularis,||Good cattle grasses.|
|Arundo conspicuo.||A grass more ornamental than useful, although horses eat it.|
|Gymnostichum gracile.||Not common.|
|Hordeum marinum.||(Wild barley.)|
The Third Class are Alpines, found from 4000 to 8000 feet.
|Poa exigua,||Some of these are small grasses forming the highest vegetation.|
|" canina, var. b.|
|" parviflora.||This species is also found as an Alpine.|
|Alopecurus geniculatus, Linn.|
|Festuca durinscula, Linn.|
|Triticum scabrum, Br.|
Schœnus pauciflorus, although strictly not a grass, forms grass-like tussocks, and is considered the true Snow grass; it is Sub-alpine.
A variety of small flowering plants find their natural habitat in the open grass land, some species being very minute in size, and hidden among the grass; in many places they form the chief part of the vegetation, choking out the grasses.
Species of the following Genera may be found among them: Ranunculus, Hydrocotyle, Discaria, Carmichælia, Coprosma, rubus Crepis, Taraxacum, Mentha, Lepidium, Spergularia, Cassinia, Senecio, Veronica, Pimelia, Aciphylla, Hypericum, Raoulia, Vittadenia, Lagenophora, Gnaphalium, Orchideæe, Leucopogon, Herpolirion, Anthericum, Nertera, Dichondra, Galium, Mimulus, Epilobium, Gunnera, Oxalis, etc. And in addition, three important plants, well known in Otago. The common Fern (Pteris esculenta), a palant which occupies large areas of ground almost exclusively. Flax (Phormium tenax), a plant certain to become so important in the manufacture of cloth fabrics, ropes, and paper, that the time will come when the farmer will be as anxious to secure crops of this plant, as he is now to get rid of it. There are probably three varieties of the Phormium tenax in Otago, two on the east coast, and one of limited distribution on the west. The two varieties, near Dunedin, will be best distinguished by their seed vessels, the most robust plant
having an erect 3-angled seed vessel, while the other has a drooping twisted seed vessel, without angles. The Tutu (Coriaria ruscifolia), is only too well known from its destructive poisonous qualities, as it is probable that the amount of the losses sustained by the stockowners and farmers, in cattle and sheep, if realised, would have eradicated the plant from the grazing districts. The Tutu is chiefly confined to the south-west of the Province, being little known inland; nothing is yet known of its poisonous principle, and much mystery prevails on the action of the poison. Those three plants, unfortunately for the farmer, who has to clear the land for cultivation, attain their maximum of growth and number in the settled districts.
The bush, or forest Flora, might compare favourably, in variety, with that of a tropical climate, as it exceeds the northern forests of temperate Europe in number of species. This variety of species produces considerable diversity of colour, although no evergreen vegetation can possibly offer to the eye the varied tints of the Autumn sere leaf, seen in countries with a deciduous vegetation; but when many of the Otago trees are in flower, such as the Metrosideros lucida with its brilliant scarlet covering, and the Weinmannia, Leptospermums, Sophora, Aralias, Pittosporums, and a host of others mix their masses of white and yellow blossoms, few persons could adopt the idea of some writers on New Zealand, that its vegetation is sombre and uninteresting. This view of the subject only applies to the places first visited in the North Island, which nowhere can compare in brilliant freshness or varied colouring with that of Otago.
The following Genera, many of which are represented by more than one species, compose the Otago bush:
Podocarpus, Dacrydium, Phylloclades, Libocedrus, Fagus, Griselina, Metrosideros, Leptospermum, Panax, Schefflera, Pittosporum, Myrsine, Melicytus, Plagianthus, Hoheria, Pennantia, Sophora, Carpodetus, Weinmannia, Fuchsia, Drimys, Aristotelia, Elæcarpus, Coriaria, Myrtus, Coprosma, Olearia, Senecio, Dracophyllum, Veronica, Myoporum, Epicarpurus, Ascarina, Hedycarya, Cordyline, and as forming a marked feature everywhere in the bush, the Tree-ferns Cyathea dealbata, C. medullaris, C. Smithi, Dicksonia squarrosa, and D. antarctica.
Shrub species of the genus Coprosma are most commonly found as an undergrowth in the forests,—most of the New Zealand shrubs preferring the open,—but a dense undergrowth of Ferns is often seen, of the genera Lomaria, Aspidium, Leptopteris, and Polypodium, many of which acquire trunks two or three feet high. The forest is often rendered impassable, by climbing plants. The Clematis indivisa, or Supple jack, climbing the highest trees, and spreading its masses of showy white flowers to the light. The Rubus australis, the common Bramble or “Bush lawyer,” forming impassable thorny masses on the ground, or interweaving the branches of fallen trees; this plant also climbs the highest trees, clothing them at top with foliage, flowers, and fruit. The strong fragrance of its flowers is felt at a great distance. And, again, the Rhipogonum scandens, or Black vine, with its numerous smooth black stalks, dark green shining leaves, and bright scarlet berries, festooning the bush, is also a very striking plant. The parasitic mistletoes will also attract attention, some of the Loranthus genus having bright crimson flowers. Those species are generally found on the Fagus (Beech
trees), while one species, Loranthus macrantha, is often found on the Leptospermum ericoides (Manuka), forming large round masses of ovate leaves, which contrasts with the finer foliage of the Manuka. The Tupeia antarctica may be found on almost every species of tree and shrub round Dunedin, and sometimes parasitic on its fellow parasite Loranthus macrantha. The genus Viscum has two species in Otago, one of which is very abundant on Manuka trees, often occupying a fair share of the branches.
Various small flowering plants assist to fill up the details of bush scenery, such as the Orchideæ; while the Cryptogamia, including Ferns, Mosses, Liverworts, Lichens, and Fungi, cover trees, rocks, and ground, with a wonderful variety of vegetable form, and presenting a luxuriance of growth that can only be found under the same conditions of heat and moisture.
On the margins of forest numerous Shrubs are found, which never penetrate into its dark recesses, preferring strong light with partial shelter.
The Shrubs, however, often form independent patches, covering Subalpine areas, filling gullies, or fringing watercourses.
Among them will be found plants of great beauty, many of whom might be introduced with effect in the ornamentation of landscape gardening.
The snow valleys of the central mountains are seldom timbered on their bottoms, from the shifting nature of the surface from floods, the larger trees being driven to the slopes of the mountains, while a more rapid reproducing plant-growth of Shrubs occupies the flats.
This scrub, as it is termed, is often found impenetrable, both from the closeness of the growth and the presence of spinous plants, such as Discaria Toumatou (the Wild Irishman), and Aciphylla squarrosa (Spear grass). Some species of Shrubs attain their maximum of grow that an altitude where the trees become stuted, such as Senecio cassinoides, Olearia moschata, O. nummularifolia, Veronica Hectori, etc.
The Shrubs of Otago are included under the genera Clematis, Ranunculus, Hoheria, Aristotelia, Coriaria, Carmichællia, Leptospermum, Metrosideros, Myrtus, Aciphylla, Panax, Corokia, Coprosma, Olearia, Rubus, Ozothamnus, Cassinia, Senecio, Gaultheria, Cyathodes, Leucopogon, Archeria, Dracophyllum, Myrsine, Parsonsia, Mitrasacme, Logania, Exarrhena, Convolvulus, Solanum, Veronica, Muhlenbeckia, Pimelia, Urtica, Freycinetia, Rhipogonum, Phormium.
In the geographical distribution of the Otago plants, one striking feature, only, can be noticed.
The difference between the Flora of the east and west divisions of the Province, seems to mark them as two distinct regions of plants. The Clutha river forms the natural boundary between, and although one or two genera, such as Fagus, push outposts across the boundary, it can be distinctly traced from the Wanaka lake to the “Nuggets,” on the line of the river.
Some peculiarity seems to exist in the climate of the eastern, or Dunedin region, which may perhaps be explained by meteorological observations.
The character of the Dunedin Flora is more of a negative nature,
wanting many species which encircle it in a belt, west, south, and east, forming the boundary line of the two regions.
Under circumstances of adaptation, the New Zealand species are wide spread, and the bush on the east is extensive enough to have retained every species, from accidents of fire denudation, if they ever existed there. Latitude does not account either for the difference, as several of the species absent on the east, range from the North Island to Riverton on the west coast.
The following plants, of the western region, will not be found on the east, except a few isolated individuals, and those generally young plants:
Metrosideros lucida, Weinmannia racemosa, Pittosporum rigidum, Panax anomalum, P. lineare, P. arboreum, Olearia operina, O. Colensoi, O. angustifolia, O. Cunninghami, O. moschata, O. Hectori, Plagianthus, Lyalli, Sophora tetraptera var. microphyllum, Senecio bifistulosus, S. rotundifolius, S. cassinioides, Archeria Traversii, Hedycarya dentata, Ascarina lucida, Fagus fusca, F. Solandri, F. Menziesi, Freycinetia Banksii, Cordyline indivisa.
Many of the Sub-alpine plants of this list, are also found in the valleys, such as Olearia moschata and O. Hectori, the latter attaining its maximum of growth in the Wyndham valley. Alpines could not be fairly represented on the east, and are not included. If the eastern climate of Otago be not adapted for the growth of so many species as the west, it seems to be the best adapted of any portion of New Zealand, to the full development of certain other species.
The following species attain their maximum of growth on the east of Otago:
Griselina littoralis—trunks measuring from 4 to 8 feet diameter,—Melicytus ramiflorus, Fuchsia excorticata, Panax crassifolium, P. Colensoi, P. Edgerleyi, Pittosporum Colensoi, P. eugenioides, Drimys colorata, Plagianthus betulinus, Hoheria angustifolia, Elœocarpus Hookerianus, Sophora tetraptera var. grandiflora, Rubus australis, Carpodetus serratus, Leptospermum ericoides—old trees of this having been cut 4 feet in diameter,—Myrtus pedunculata, Coprosma rotundifolia, C. linariifolia, Olearia nitida, O. dentata, O. ilicifolia, O. avicenniœfolia—these four last growing to timber trees, 3 feet in diameter near the ground, and generally branching into three or more branches 18 inches in diameter, and 25 feet high, — Dracophyllum longifolium—attaining a diameter of 18 inches, — Myrsine Urvillei, Veronica Salicifolia, Veronica elliptica, Libocedrus Doniana—a tree was cut of this near dunedin, nearly 4 feet in diameter,—Cordyline australis—2 to 4 feet diameter,—Cyathea dealbata, C. Smithii, and Dicksonia antarctica.
This comparison of maximum growth, applies, not only to the western region of Otago, but to all New Zealand where these species are found. In the smaller flowering plants, this maximum of growth is not so easily observed, but many of the Cryptogamia, show both greater growth and variety of species. Nowhere in New Zealand can so large a representation of certain genera be found, as on Mount Cargil, near Dunedin; as two instances of this, fourteen species of Hymenophyllum Ferns out of fifteen species known in New Zealand, have been collected there, and thirteen species of Hookeria Moss out of sixteen species known in New Zealand.
A descriptive sketch of the leading botanical features that occur in passing up one of the principal valleys of the Province, and the ascent of a mountain on the central range, with the knowledge acquired by the previous lists of plants known to exist there, will give an average idea of how they are distributed over the whole, and the changes that take place by altitude. For this purpose, the valley of the Clutha will be selected.
Before starting from the coast, the littoral plants may be examined. The principal plants, of a large size, peculiar to the coast line, are Veronica elliptica and Myoporum lœtum; Linum monogynum, although a littoral plant, is often found inland with other littoral species, probably lingering on old sea margins.
Sand hills, on the coast line, have a peculiar vegetatio of a remarkable sameness in species, all round New Zealand. The following are always found there: Euphorbia glauca, Pimelia arenaria, Scirpus maritimus, Desmoschœnus spiralis, Convolvulus Soldanella, Senecio lautus, Coprosma acerosa, Mesembryanthemum australe, Cassinia leptophylla, Geranium microphyllum.
And in little swamps near the mouth of rivers, and along the coast, will be found such plants as Samolus littoralis, Salicornia indica, Lepidium oleraceum, Juncus maritimus. Again, on banks, will be found Tetragona expansa, Apium australis, Sellieria radicans, Ruppia maritima, and many other small plants. There is one Fern remarkably abundant on the Otago coast, both east and west, forming by its close growth, little mounds (Asplenium obtusatum, var. obliqnum.)
Proceeding up the river, the country for the first twenty-five miles consists either of plains, or undulating low hills, of open grass country, with patches of forest near the river, or on the islands. Bush is also found in patches on the slopes of the higher hills which bound the valley. The bush here is a fair representation of that of the western region, consisting of species of podocarpus, Dacrydium, Metrosideros, Weinmannia, Fagus, Sophora, Panax, Pittosporum, and a sprinkling of all the lesser plants.
Patches of scrub are also found along the river, composed chiefly of Olearia virgata, species of Coprosma, Discaria, Leptospermum scoparium, and Carmichellia.
Swamps are frequent along the valley, in some places fringed by Raupo (Typha angustifolia); this plant continues encroaching and filling up lagoons, and forming a bottom for many others, such as Carex Gaudichaudiana, Carex ternaria, Cyperus ustulatus, Luzula campestris, L. pumila, Carex virgata (Nigger-head of the settlers), and Mosses, all playing an important part in the economy of nature, by raising the land and making it fit for the growth of superior plants; the ground being soon taken possession of by Phormium tenax and other Shrubs. These Raupofringed lagoons are the favourite haunt of ducks.
The Phormium tenax is abundant in this district, where it finds good soil and moisture, so essential to its full development. Areas are also covered by the Fern, Pteris aquilina var. esculenta, growing in some places 6 feet high. The Tutu (Coriaria ruscifolia), is abundant on the Lower Clutha; it is generally found in gullies, where it finds the deepest soil for its large ramifying roots.
Perhaps the most striking plant of the district is the Cabbage-tree (Cordyline australis); it is abundantly scattered over the ridges, having from its non-inflammable nature, escaped burnig. Ridges dotted with Cabbage-trees, and filled in between with the graceful plumose Toi-toi grass (Arundo conspicuo), present one of the most singular features in New Zealand vegetation.
The grasses are numerous in species, and of good kinds, and the conditions of sufficient heat and moisture, with good soil, being present, the pasture is superior.
From the Tuapeka to the junction of the Manuherikia, eighty miles, the river is more or less closed in by mountains, with forest on the slopes and scrub on the flats, although considerable protions are now burned and under grass.
At the junction of the Manuherikia River with the Clutha, the country opens out into a large, terraced; ancient lake basin, through which the Clutha River runs from its leaving the Dunstan gorge, twelve miles. Over this large district, the country is open grass, and when first visited, of a remarkably sparse growth, consisting of three species on the terraces, but richer in the small valleys. A little scrub was, at that time, found on the banks of the Manuherikia, chiefly Olearia virgata. The parching winds, and light dry soil, of these interior basins, must have always been an obstacle to a luxuriant vegetation, and from the same causes, they would be continually liable to be cleared by fire.
The river passes fifteen miles through the Dunstan gorge, hemmed in on each side by the mountains, with a narrow terrace on both sides. The slopes of the mountains here are steep, but carry a good pasture of numerous species of grass.
At the termination of the gorge, upwards, the Clutha is joined by the Kawarau River, and the country opens out again into another ancient lake basin, fringed by terraces, and stretching forty-five miles, to the Wanaka and Hawea lakes. The whole of this district is similar to the last, with poor pasture on the flats and terraces, but superior in the little valleys falling from the mountains.
In the Lake district the pasture is superior, consisting of the finest grasses in the Province; and as the mountain region is fairly entered by any of the snow valleys that pour their waters into the lakes, a profusion of botanical beauty appears, unknown in the lower parts of the Province. The Shrubs, in the river flats and Sub-alpine slopes, attain their maximum of growth and variety of species. On a few acres of the Matukituki River valley, may be collected eight species of Olearia, six species of Coprosma, Discaria toumatou, with a stem 8 inches diameter, Senecio cassinioides, eitht species of Veronica, Aristotelia fruticosa, etc.
In ascending Mount Alta, 7000 feet altitude, the first 2000 feet above the lake is covered with Beech (Fagus fusca), Fagus Menziesi, and F. Solandri. The undergrowth of this Beech bush is composed chieflly of Coprosma lucida, Plagianthus Lyalli, Carpodetus serratus, Senecio elœagnifolius, Drimys colorata, and numerous young Beech plants. Although the bush is composed principally of Beech, occasional patches of Dacrydium, Podocarpus, Phylloclades, and other large trees, are also present. Where the forest terminates on the mountains, which
it always does in Otago under 4000 feet altitude, numerous Shrubs are still found higher, in the shelter of the gullies. Up to 5000 feet may be classed as the Sub-alpine zone, characterized by a belt of coarse tussock grasses, Celmisias, Veronicas, and Ranunculus; it is in this zone, at the Lakes, that Ranunculus Lyalli attains its greatest growth.
At the altitude of 6000 and 7000 feet, great slopes of dry debris prevail, and the true Alpine zone is reached. The plants here are small, although many are fine flowerers. The species found are: Pachycladon Novæ Zelandiæ, Mitrasacme Novæ Zelandiæ, Logania tetragona, Ranunculus Sinclairi, R. Buchanani, Caltha Novæ Zelandiæ, Colobanthus acicularis, Claytonia Australasica, Hectorella cæspitosa, Coriaria angustissima, Epilobium purpuratum, Pozoa exigua, Aciphylla Lyalli, A. Monroi, Ligusticum Haastii, L. Piliferum, L. imbricatum, Coprosma pumila, Celmisia densiflora, C. Haastii, C. incana, C. laricifolia, C. Hectori, Brachycome Sinclairi, Abrotanella inconspicua, Craspedia Alpina, Raoulia grandiflora, Gnaphalium Youngii, Haastia Sinclairi, Forstera sedifolia, Helophyllum clavigerum, H. Colensoi, H. rubrum, Wahlenbergia saxicola, Dracophyllum uniflorum, D. rosmarinifolium, D. muscoides, Gentiana saxosa, Myosotis pulvinaris, M. Hectori, Veronica Buchanani, V. Hectori, Ourisia cæspitosa, O. glandulosa, Euphrasia revoluta, Drapetes Lyalli, Agrostis canina, var. b, Poa follosa, Plantago lanigera. This list does not exhaust the flora of Mount Alta; and as many Alpines, in this district, are very local, and are not included in it, the richness of the Alpine Flora of Otago is clearly shown.
The Flora of the west coast is almost entirely forest, consisting of Trees and Shrubs. In its general features it differs considerably from the Bush Flora of the east coast. In addition to the Pines which are distributed over every part of New Zealand, Metrosideros lucida, Weinmannia racemosa, Fagus fusca, F. Menziesi, and F. Solandri, are the most prominent and abundant in numbers, the two first being remarkable for beauty when in flower.
In the sounds and harbours along the coast, the bush comes down to the sea, in some places, where not so steep, having a belt of shrubs on the shore. In ascending a mountain at Dusky Bay, this belt is first passed through, consisting of many rare and beautiful shrubs. Olearia operina with its star fascicles of leaves, centred by large white flowers; this plant is only found between Milford Sound and Preservation Inlet. Archeria Traversi, a large ornamental heath-shrub, with racemes of red flowers. Senecio rotundifolia, a large ornamental shrub tree, as also species of Veronica, Pimelea, Coriaria, Plagianthus, Sophora, and Olearia.
For the first 1000 feet altitude, the principal trees are species of Dacrydium, Podocarpus, Fagus, Metrosideros, and Weinmannia, with several of the smaller shrub trees of the western region, as also Cyathea medullaris, Dicksonia squarrosa, tree ferns. The latter being the furthest south tree fern in New Zealand. At 2000 feet altitude, many of trees have disappeared, and others become stunted from the severity of the climate. At 2500 feet altitude, the trees cease, and a belt of stunted gnarled shrubs are passed through, to the bald mountain top, this belt is sometimes found to consist of Olearia Colensoi only, and is very difficult to pass through, from the branches interlacing.
The open mountain top is covered with a growth of coarse grass, tracked all over by the Kakapo Parrot. The Alpine vegetation at 2500 feet altitude, consists of the following plants, many of whom are only sub-Alpine on Mount Alta, at the Wanaka Lake:
Ranunculus Lyalli, abundant, Celmisia ramulosa, C. verbascifolia, C. Lyalli, C. laricifolia, Claytonia australasica, Caltha Novæ Zelandiæ, Epilobium purpuratum, Aciphylla Monroi, A. Lyalli, Ligusticum, Coprosma pumila, Brachycome Sinclairi, Craspedia alpina, Senecio Lyalli, S. bifistulosus, Forstera sedifolia, Wah'enbergia saxicola, Pentachondra pumila, Dracophyllum rosmarinifolia, D. Menziesi, Gentiana montana, G. saxosa, Myosotis capitata, Veronica lævis, V. buxifolia, Ourisia macrophylla, O. cæspitosa, Anthericum Hookeri.
Popular Arrangement of the Otago Flora.
Many of the most prominent plants have been named, by the Settlers of Otago, from certain apparent affinities of likeness, or quality of wood; this popular grouping has been in general, correct, although in some cases, such as the Ribbon woods, plants of different genera are included in one group. The method will be adopted here as likely to make the description of species more interesting.
Pines. Among the numerous surface changes of the past, this family has had representatives as far back as Miocene times, fossil impressions of Auracaria and Dammara leaves and branches being found in that formation at Shag Point, showing that Otago has had at this period forests of Pines, the species of which are now extinct. Ten species of Pine, and a few varieties, are found in the Province at the present day.
The most valuable for sawn timber are Black Pine, or Miro (Podocarpus ferruginea), having red, hard, durable wood. A variety of this is found on the west coast, with large fern-like branches, and large dark green leaves, the whole plant having a black appearance.
Black rue Pine, or Matai, (Podocarpus spicata), a tree similar, in size and form, to the last. Wood white, tough, not so hard or durable in wet places, as Miro.
Totara (Podocarpus Totara), a most valuable timber tree, being very durable and easily worked. A variety of this is often found over the Province, especially on the west coast, with short obtuse leaves.
Red Pine, or Rimu (Decrydium cupressinum), another valuable building timber, found abundant everywhere; a variety is found on the west coast, with long drooping pale coloured foliage, white wood, and whitish bark. Another very distinct variety, if not a species, is also found there, with erect bright green foliage, and close-grained heavy timber.
The Pines of less value for building purposes are:
Cedar (Libocedrus Doniana), a handsome conical tree, with reddish wood, fit only for inside work.
White Pine, or Kahikatea (Podocarpus dacrydioides). This is a straight, narrow, sometimes conical tree, growing on wet flats; wood of little value. The male, or barren tree, has distichous leaves, while the female tree, bearing bright red berries, has imbricate leaves.
A large round-headed tree, also called White Pine in Otago, and Silver Pine in Nelson, is not uncommon near Dunedin; it is probable that the male and female plants differ in their leaves, similar to the Kahikatea; the timber is valuable for boat-building. This plant is more like a Dacrydium than a Podocarpus. Flowers and fruit not seen.
Manoua (Dacrydium Colensoi). A small tree, found at an altitude of 1000 to 2000 feet, at Dunedin, and at the sea level on the west coast. Leaves of two kinds, spreading and imbricate. Wood close-grained and durable, but could not be found in any quantity.
Manoua (Dacrydium laxifolium), is a very doubtful species, being difficult to distinguish from the last.
Toa toa (Phyllocladus alpinus). Celery leaved Pine. A small tree, common on the central mountains, and at Dunedin on the top of the hills. Wood heavy, very durable, but could not be got in quantity. Bark used in dyeing by the Maoris.
Totara (Podocarpus nivalis). A mountain shrub resembling Totara, of no economic value.
Beeches. This is another ancient family of plants, having existed before the Brown Coal formation.
There are three species in Otago, chiefly confined to the western botanical region.
Red Birch of Otago, Black Birch of Nelson, Beech, etc. (Fagus Menziesi), a valuable timber tree, found from the sea level to 4000 feet altitude, sometimes attaining a diameter of 12 feet. Timber useful for many purposes.
Black Birch of Otago, Beech, etc. (Fagus fusca), another valuable timber tree, attaining a great size; most abundant on the central ranges up to 2000 feet. Good fence stuff.
White Birch of Otago, Beech, etc. (Fagus Solandri). This has the greatest distribution of the three. Wood white, soft, decays easily; and from having been used in some parts of the island, for bridges and telegraphic poles, has brought the family into bad repute.
Myrtle Family. Cook's Tea tree, Scrub Manuka, or Kahikatoa (Leptospermum scoparium). A very ornamental shrub, sometimes attaining a diameter of 18 inches. Wood red, hard, durable.
Manuka (Leptospermum ericoides). A large tree, attaining a diameter of 3 feet. Wood white or red, in old trees nearly black in the centre, sometimes variegated. It is generally used as firewood, piles, and fence stuff, but from its great breaking power, would be well adapted in building where great strenght and durability was required. Common at one time near Dunedin, but now nearly exhausted.
Iron Wood (Metrosideros lucida). Wood hard, heavy, and well adapted for knees in ship-building. Common in the western botanical region.
Myrtles (Myrtus Obcordata and peduculata). Two handsome shrub trees, common near Dunedin.
Some fine creepers, of the Metrosideros genus, are also found in the bush, with red or yellow flowers.
Ribbon Wood Family. Ribbon Wood (Plagianthus betulinus). A very ornamental tree, especially when in flower, being covered with small white flowers. Common at Dunedin. Wood soft, white, splits freely, but not durable. Flowers in October.
Ribbon Wood (Hoheria populnea var. angustifolia). A tree with all the beauties and faults of the last. Common near Dunedin. Flowers in January.
Ribbon Wood (Pennantia corymbosa). This tree and the two former, are often confounded, being very similar in general appearance, in soft, white, easily splitting, worthless wood; in the season, being covered with masses of small white fragrant flowers; and not very dissimilar in the leaves. Common near Dunedin. Flowers in December.
Ribbon Wood (Hoheria populnea var. cratœgifolia). A very ornamental tree, found on the west coast. Similar to the former, but with larger flowers.
Ribbon Wood, or Lace-bark tree (Plagianthus Lyalli). A very ornamental shrub tree, with large leaves and flowers. Common on the central ranges and west coast.
Mapau Family. White Mapau; Tarata (Pittosporum eugenioides). One of the most beautiful trees in New Zealand, grows to a comparatively large size in Otago, with a trunk 18 inches to 2 feet diameter. Leaves shining, silvery. Flowers in large pale yellow corymbs, very fragrant. The leaves, when bruised and mixed with fat, are used by the Maories, as a perfume. Wood soft, white, worthless. Bark exudes a resin.
Black Mapau, or Tipau (Pittosporum Colensoi). A shrub tree, very ornamental in contrast with the last, the whole tree very dark coloured. Flowers solitary, dark purple. Wood soft, white, worthless, 12 inches diameter.
Black Mapau, or Tipau (Pittosporum tenuifolium). A smaller-leaved species, probably a variety of the last; leaves smaller, pale green, shining. Wood soft, white, worthless, 12 inches diameter. Pittosporum rigidum, a straggling shrub of the west coast.
Aralia Family. Kaiwhiria (Panax simplex). A small, darkfoliaged, 1-foliolate shrub-tree. Leaves of young plants, and lower branches of old plants, 3-foliolate, sometimes deeply lobulate, when young (seldom so at Dunedin), slightly fragrant when bruised; this is probably only a variety of the next.
Raukawa (Panax Edgerleyi). A good sized tree at Dunedin, 18 inches-2 feet diameter, large shining leaves, 3-foliolate in the young plant, and deeply lobulate; leaves of lower branches of large trees retain the 3-foliolate form. Leaves fragrant, when bruised, and mixed with fat, used by the Maories as perfumery.
Panax anomalum. A small shrub found at Waikawa.
Panax lineare. A pretty little shrub, found on the west coast.
Horoeka (Panax crassifolium). A singular-looking plant in all stages of its growth. Three varieties are found at Dunedin, only distinguishable, in the young state, and method of inflorescence. Young plants with narrow rod-like stems, from 1–12 feet high, topped with a few reversed long linear leaves; the varieties having different markings and amount of serrations. The full-grown tree has a long naked trunk, 12 inches diameter, round headed, erect foliage, and half umbellate branches. Wood hard when dry.
Gum Tree (Panax Colensoi). A showy small tree, with large shining tri-foliolate leaves in all stages of growth. Wood soft, white, burns
well when dry. Bark exudes gum when wounded. Branches half umbellate.
Panax arboreum. A small tree, similar to the last, with 5-foliolate leaflets petioled, found on the west coast.
Paté (Schefflera digitata). A small tree, common everywhere in Otago. There is probably a variety of this plant in Auckland, as young plants there have the 7 leaflets deeply lobulate, which they never have in Otago. Wood soft, white, useless.
Lime Tree Family. Mako-mako (Aristotelia racemosa). A small, beautiful, quick-growing shrub-tree, with large leaves, and large panicled racemes of pink flowers and berries. Wood soft, white, light, makes pretty veneers.
Aristotelia Colensoi. A small shrub-tree, similar to the last, common on the Clutha.
Aristotelia fruticosa. A small Sub-alpine shrub, common in hilly districts.
Hinau (Elæocarpus dentatus). A large tree, with fastigiate branches, and a variety, with foliage in a round dense head, leaves also differing in length, and amount of recurved margins. Wood of both whitish, heavy, not durable.
Pokako (Elæocarpus Hookerianus). A large round-headed tree, near Dunedin; common also on the west coast. Young plants are very ornamental, differing entirely in foliage, till 4–6 feet high, often forming flat table-topped shrubs. Wood not durable.
Tutu Family (Coriaria ruscifolia, var). The plant known as Tutu, on the pasture lands of Otago, is a strong robust shrub 3–6 feet high, dying down to the ground every year. The roots creep and interlace below the surface, forming sometimes considerable masses of spongy wood, which, when dried, have been used as fuel.
In the spring, stems spring up from any part of the root, forming often a close growth, impenetrable to everything but pigs.
Tree Tutu (Coriaria ruscifolia). A small shrub-tree, with a trunk 6–8 inches diameter, growing often solitary in the bush. As this plant is only found in the shelter of bush, it may probably be the same as the last, although, as on the margins of the West Coast sounds, where the plants are numerous, each has an independent root.
Thyme-leaved Tutu (Coriaria thymifolia). The varieties of this are so numerous that it is difficult to determine the size of the species; a gradation of intermediate forms may be found between C. ruscifolia, and the small Alpine, 6 inches high.
Alpine Tutu (Coriaria angustissima). A very distinct species, found only in Sub-alpine localities, its branches are never arranged on planes, and the leaves are reduced to needles, the whole plant being similar to a bottle brush.
Legume Family. Kohwai (Sophora tetraptera, var. grandiflora). A splendid tree, with laburnum-like flowers, the trunk often attains a diameter over two feet. Var. microphylla is only found on the west coast; a small tree with weeping branches and few flowers. Wood valuable as fence stuff, being very durable, it is also prettily marked, and adapted for cabinet work. A remarkable variety of this plant is found in Marlborough Province, 6–12 inches high, spreading, and
covering patches of the ground, and so rigid that it may be walked upon.
Carmichællia crassicaulis. A most singular plant, from its grooved, cylindric stems, and leafless habit.
Carmichællia nana. A curious dwarf plant, found on grass river flats and on mountains, with rigid flat leaves.
Carmichællia grandiflora. This may be called the New Zealand Broom, being generally found with leaves. Habitat: the Lakes.
Carmichællia odorata. Old plants leafless, forming a mass of round rush-like branches.
Carmichællia flagelliformis. Found on the west coast.
Carmichællia juncea. Common on the Waitaki Valley, forming patches that might be mistaken for rushes.
Coprosma Family. Karamu. This is one of the most numerous and wide spread in the Province; many of them are very ornamental shrubs, forming in many places, the greater part of the scrub and undergrowth of the bush. Alpine species are also found a few inches high. The most ornamental found near Dunedin are:
Coprosma linariifolia. A shrub-tree, trunk 4–8 inches diameter. Bark rough, wood yellow.
Karamu (Coprosma robusta). With large shining leaves and red berries.
Coprosma rotundifolia. A pretty shrub 8 feet high. The distribution of the others will be given in the appended List.
Heath Family. This beautiful family has several fine representatives in Otago. The Gaultherias cover large areas of ground on the mountains, the fruit being eaten by the Kaka parrots. The Cyathodes genus are very ornamental; and the Dracophyllums, with their singular grass-like foliage, and racemes of waxy, white flowers, would prove fine additions to garden shrubbery; trunks sometimes attain a diameter of 12–18 inches. Wood soft, white, finely marked, making pretty veneers.
Veronica Family. Koromiko. One of the largest in Otago, and forming a prominent feature in the New Zeland Flora. Many of them are remarkable for great beauty, and novelty in their imbricated foliage. Some of the finest are Sub-alpine, and the family is well represented in Otago. (See List of Plants.)
Composite Family. This, the largest family of plants in the world, retains their proportion in Otago. The principal are, Tupari (Olearia operina). Trunk 6–8 inches diameter, very ornamental, found only on the west coast, but grows well at Dunedin, transplanted.
Olearia nitida. A very ornamental shrub-tree, with showy fragrant white flowers. Trunk 12–18 inches diameter; wood white with yellow markings.
Olearia dentata. A very ornamental small tree, when in flower covered with white fragrant blossoms. Trunk 2–3 feet diameter. Wood white with yellow markings.
Olearia ilicifolia. Very similar to the last.
Ake ake (Olearia avicenniœfolia). A very ornamental shrub-tree, covered with white, fragrant blossoms, in the season. Trunk 6–12 inches diameter. Wood finely marked with yellow and brown streaks, makes pretty veneers.
Olearia moschata. An ornamental shrub, as also
Olearia Hectori. A very ornamental shrub-tree, covered in season with white blossoms, of a strong, peach fragrance; common between the clutha and Mataura Rivers, and in the Wanaka Lake district.
Olearia virgata, with several varieties, which probably pass into the last; extreme form, with needle-shaped leaves, found at Dunedin. These varieties form in many places a large part of the scrub.
Cotton plant (Celmisia). Several of this numerous genus would make pretty additions to the garden. Celmisia coriacea, from its abundance on the Lammerlaw Ranges, might be used in the manufacture of paper, having a large amount of fibrous material on the back of the leaves.
Cassinia. The species of this genus are widely distributed, forming the greater part of the hill scrub, everywhere common round Dunedin.
Ozothamnus. Some of the species would be very ornamental on garden rock-work, as they are very pretty in their natural state, creeping over stones.
Puheritaiko (Senecio rotundifolius) and S. elœagnifolius, are very ornamental shrub-trees, having large leathery leaves, covered on the back with white wool.
Lily Family. Cabbage-tree (Cordyline australis). A beautiful tree, especially when in flower. Trunk 1–3 feet diameter, dividing about 10 feet from the ground, into 3 to 4 main branches, which fork into lesser ones, each ultimate branch terminating in a large bunch of swordshaped leaves, flowers from dense oval masses, 12 inches or more long. The juice of the roots contains a small quantity of sugar, and the whole plant, being fibrous, might be used in the manufacture of paper.
Cordyline indivisa. This species has only one head of leaves, which are longer and broader than the last; found only on the west coast of the South Island.
Flax (Phormium tenax). The next in importance of the Lily family. The variety most common in Otago is a large-leaved plant, on rich wet soil, but probably inferior on that account as a fibrous material. The Tihore, or silky flax, cultivated in the North Island by the Maories, is a finer-leaved variety, and having long narrow rounded and twisted drooping capsules, might be introduced to Otago, if fine silky fibre was essential. The Otago variety would no doubt be valuable in the manufacture of paper or rope.
Astelia nervosa, A. Solandri, and a small swamp species, A. linearis, are found in Otago, but seldom on trees. The two former are common on the ground, near Dunedin, forming large flax-like tufts, of long linear leaves, with three stout ribs.
Anthericum Hookeri. Very abundant near Dunedin, in paddocks, flowers in long yellow spikes; leaves with a strong odour when bruised.
The Liane Group (Climbers). There are several very ornametal plants in this group belonging to differnt genera. They are found everywhere, climbing trees, rambling over rocks, and interweaving shrubs; sometimes on open ground, twisting and forming masses of interlaced stems of themselves.
|Rubus.||1 species, and several varieties.|
Miscellaneous Genera Which have only one Species in the Province.
Pepper tree (Drimys colorata). A handsome small tree, more especially so, when growing on hills in open ground; the foliage is then coloured reddish. Whole plant, pungent and aromatic. Wood prettily marked, and adapted for cabinet work.
Hinihini or Mahoe (Melicytus ramiflorus). A very variable tree in size of leaves and shape of trunk, the latter angled or round. Trunk 1–2 feet diameter. Wood soft, white, worthless; foliage nourishing to cattle.
White Mapau, or Piripiriwhata (Carpodetus serratus). An ornamental shrub-tree, with mottled-green leaves, and large cymose panicles of white flowers. The branches are arranged on planes. Wood white, tough.
Towai, or Karmai (Weinmannia racemosa). A beautiful large tree, especially when in flower. Trunk 2–4 feet diameter. Bark valuable in tanning. Wood close-grained, heavy, often used in wooden tramways.
Fuchsia, or Kotukutuku (Fuchsia excorticata). This tree sometimes attains a diameter of 3 feet in the trunk, which is generally crooked. Wood heavy and wet. The juice is astringent, forming shades of purple to black, with iron.
Broad leaf (Griselina littoralis). A large tree, with large ovate, shining leaves. Trunk 4–8 feet diameter. Wood white and red, close grained, heavy, durable.
Red Mapau (Myrsine Urvillei). A small tree common at Dunedin. Trunk 6–12 inches diameter. Wood dark-red, very astringent, used as fence stuff, but subject to the attack of a boring beetle.
Hedycarya dentata. A dark-foliaged small shrub-tree, with large red berries, found on the west coast.
Milk tree, or Tawaapou (Epicarpurus microphyllus). The Milk tree of the Settlers, from the bark exuding a vegetable milk when wounded. Trunk 12–18 inches diameter. Wood white, not durable.
Ascarina lucida. A shrub-tree of the west coast.
Ngaio (Myoporum lœtum). An ornamental shrub-tree, useful as shelter, being of rapid growth.