Astelia Cunninghamii, Hook. f.
Sub-species, A. Hookeriana.
Hamelinia veratroides, A. Rich., Flor. 158, t. 24, (Flower only).
Tufted, leaves linear, 1–3 feet long, clothed with snow-white silky hairs at the base; points long, hairy or silky below, usually glabrous above; nerves about ten, one prominent on each side; scapes slender, with long silky hairs.
Male.—1–2 feet long; panicle 6 to 12 inches; branches numerous, slender, ascending, drooping at the tips, usually in threes, or giving off branchlets at the base, with linear acuminate, nerved, concave, silky, or hairy bracts, one foot long or more; flowers numerous, on rather long bracteolate pedicels; perianth rotate; segments glabrate, ovate-lanceolate, membranous, claret-coloured; filaments short, subulate; anthers oblong. Female.—Scape, bracts, etc., as in the male, much branched; branches strict; flowers numerous, on slender silky pedicels; perianth small, rotate; segments ovate; ovary conical, one-celled; stigma trifid, somewhat elongated. Berry one-celled, globose, black; placentæ scarcely perceptible; seeds terete.
On rocks, Little Barrier Island, Auckland.
Flowers in April.
The most elegant of the New Zealand forms; the branches of the male panicle are never interlaced as in typical A. Cunninghamii, so that it is readily distinguished by the peculiar habit, and by the limited development of the placentæ in the mature fruit. The deep claret-coloured flowers are produced in April, and the fruit requires over a year to arrive at maturity.
Hamelinia veratroides, A. Rich., doubtfully quoted by Dr. Hooker as a synonym of A. Banksii, is identical with our plant, as is evident from the fine drawing of the female scape, although the section of the ovary is that of A. Banksii. The diagnosis also appears to have been drawn up from specimens of both forms. In Hooker's drawing the lower part of the scape is represented as stouter than the upper; the reverse is the case in all the species, not excepting A. grandis.
Dr. Hooker, referring to A. Cunninghamii, states, “Very like A. Banksii, but differs in the larger flowers, ovary, fruit, and seeds.” I find the opposite to be invariably the case. A. Cunninghamii, with its globose berry and terete seeds, is of smaller size in all its parts, and of more slender habit than A. Banksii, with its ovoid berry and sharply angled seeds.