Art. XLV.— A brief List of some British Plants (Weeds) lately noticed, apparently of recent Introduction into this Part of the Colony; with a few Notes thereon.
[Read before the Hawke's Bay Philosophical Institute, 14th December, 1885.]
In my travels or wanderings on foot during the last 2–3 years, mostly in and about the Seventy-mile Bush and its neighbouring localities, I have occasionally stumbled on a British plant that I had never seen before in New Zealand, that is since I left England, upwards of fifty years ago. On three occasions in particular I was at first, and for some time after detecting the plant, induced to believe that I had gained something additional to our indigenous Flora; but on examination, etc., I found out my mistake. I shall, however, only mention those few that are of recent introduction, at least here in Hawke's Bay; as far too much, in my opinion, has been already often said and repeatedly published respecting those British and Australian weeds, which have long been established in New Zealand, some of them even before it became a British colony! otherwise I might easily do as others have done before me: make out a long and wearisome reiteration or useless catalogue of hard names.
On the contrary (and as Sir J. D. Hooker in writing on this subject has shown), an increase of knowledge, if not a real benefit, is obtained, by noting the fact of the introduction or first notice of any of our Home and foreign common weeds into the colony.
Ranunculus hirsutus, Curt. (Pale Hairy Crowfoot). Only one plant, and that a very large one, quite a little erect bush of above a foot high, containing very many flowers. (This is one of the three plants already alluded to, that on first sight I supposed to be indigenous, it had so much in common with our larger New Zealand Ranunculi.) In an open sunny watercourse near Norsewood; 1884.
Coronopus didyma, Sm. (Wart Cress). A single plant only, but a pretty large prostrate one. This plant is not generally spread at Home, being confined to the south-west of England. I found this during the present summer (1885) at Napier.
Camelina sativa, Crantz. (Gold-of-Pleasure). Of this also I only detected a single plant, and that a few years ago near Napier; it was of large size (for the species) and full of flowers and fruit; I have not observed it since. I gathered and dried the whole of it. Its common English name seems wonderfully misplaced.
Linum angustifolium, Huds. (Narrow-leaved pale Flax). First observed this summer here in Napier.
Hypericum androsæmum, Linn. (Tutsan; Park-leaves). One fine plant only here at Napier, in my field; first observed at Christmas, 1884, bearing flowers and fruit.
Torilis nodosa, Sm. (Knotted Hedge Parsley). One small plant only seen, and that in a very strange out-of-the-way spot for a foreign weed to be found in, at the base of a high cliff, side of the River Mangatawhainui, Seventy-mile Bush; 1884. This little plant gave me some trouble; for, on my first meeting with it (young and leaves only), I supposed it to be Daucus brachiatus, Sieber, (an indigenous common northern plant that I had never met with in these parts,) or, something new; so I watched it carefully. On a subsequent visit I procured a tiny bit in flower, and on a still later visit its curious fruit, when I soon found out what it was.
Galium aparine, L. (Goose-grass, or Cleavers). This fine species of Galium grows strongly here at Napier. First noticed in 1884.
Crepis pulchra, Linn. (Small flowered Hawk's Beard). Sparingly in my field at Napier.
Crepis tectorum, Linn. (Smooth Hawk's Beard). With preceding; this plant becomes a biennial in New Zealand. At first I had supposed this plant to be a sp. nov., from its large size and woody stems, and being a perennial.
Hypochæris glabra, Linn. (Smooth Cat's-ear). With preceding; first noticed in 1884.
Lapsana communis, Linn. (Common Nipple-wort). In one spot only, in an open grassy glade in a thick wood, south of the River Mangatawhainui, near Norsewood; first noticed in 1883.
Arctium lappa, Linn. (Burdock; Clot-Bur). I first saw this plant in 1882, in a dense and unfrequented part of the Seventy-mile Bush. There was only one plant of it, a young one, having 2–3 large prostrate leaves resembling rhubarb. I could not tell what to make of it! I gazed on it with astonishment, much like Robinson Crusoe on seeing the print of a human foot in the sand! I had seen nothing like it in New Zealand. [To the best of my recollection I had never seen the burdock growing in England.] I visited that one plant several times during the first six months, with great expectations, but
could make nothing of it, as during that period it showed no signs of flowering. Subsequently, however, it flowered. I collected and dried specimens, and brought them to Napier, not, however, without some amount of misgiving. On due examination, I found out what it was. Unfortunately I did not go again to those localities until the following Spring; and, as it had seeded plentifully, and the cattle had got into that wood, they carried off its sticky burs in all directions; so that from that one plant hundreds have been disseminated, filling the neighbourhood with a much worse weed than the introduced thistle. Like many other of the foreign weeds, it flourishes exceedingly, and grows to a very large size, 4 feet high, thick, bushy and strong, insomuch that a few plants growing together offer quite an obstacle to the traveller that way.
Among sundry other plants of this extensive and easily introduced Order, that have also found their way here during the last few years, (although previously known in other parts of the colony,) may be mentioned:—
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, Linn. (Great Ox-eye). In great quantity about Waipawa and Waipukurau, quite whitening the fields at Woburn with its flowers.
Achillea millefolium, Linn. (Common Yarrow or Milfoil). At Norsewood; where, however, it bears purple flowers, and looks well.
Centaurea solstitialis, Linn. (Yellow Star-thistle; St. Barnaby's Thistle). Napier.
Prunella vulgaris, Linn. (Self-heal). This weed, long known in the north of New Zealand, I first noticed about five years ago, and then only a few, and in two or three adjoining spots. When I first saw it, being young and only showing leaves, I did not recognise it. On a subsequent visit it was in flower. In the following year I was again sojourning in that same locality (Seventy-mile Bush), when one day a gentleman drove up to the house where I was; he had been up in the forest collecting ferns and plants for his garden, and among others he had carefully taken up some young Prunella plants; but on my telling him what they were, he quickly abandoned them. This plant, too, has spread wonderfully in a short time, supplanting, overrunning, and destroying the low indigenous herbs; which is the more easily done through it being a perennial.