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Volume 24, 1891
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Art. XLIII.—Descriptions of New Plants from the Vicinity of Port Nicholson.

[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 24th February, 1892.]

CruciferÆ.

Lepidium obtusatum.

A glabrous much-branched herb; stems prostrate, 6in.—12in. long; leaves elliptic or elliptic-ovate, fleshy; lower leaves gradually narrowed into long petioles, upper sessile, rounded at the tips, crenate or crenate-serrate or coarsely toothed. Racemes terminating short leafy branches. Flowers tetra-merous, petals small, pedicels slightly exceeding the pods; pods ovate-cordate, emarginate, slightly winged above; style never exceeding the notch; stigma capitate.

Hab. North Island: Maritime rocks at the entrance to Port Nicholson, Miss Kirk.

This plant approaches L. oleraceum, Banks and Sol., in general appearance, but is less robust, and further differs from that species in the long petioles of the radical leaves, and in their crenate margins: the cauline leaves also are broad and always obtusely toothed. The pods are emarginate and winged above, while the style never exceeds the notch.

In L. oleraceum the leaves are acutely toothed; the cauline leaves are linear-cuneate, and acutely toothed at the apex only; the racemes are usually paniculate, while the pods are subacute and quite entire, with projecting styles.

Note on Lepidium oleraceum, Banks and Sol.

This plant is more variable than is generally supposed. Sir Joseph Hooker, in “The Flora of New Zealand” and in the “Handbook of the New Zealand Flora,” includes the plant represented in M. Richard's drawing, t. 35, Fl. Nouv.-Zel.: this differs from Hooker's description in the slender habit, somewhat flexuous branches, short racemes, and in the emarginate pod with the stigma exceeding the notch: the leaves are sharply serrate. I have only seen a single specimen of this form, which is sufficiently distinct to demand varietal rank.

The original drawing of Banks and Solander represents a remarkably robust plant, the lower leaves of which are fully 4in. in length by upwards of 1in. in breadth, with short broad petioles, acute, and the margins rather coarsely serrate. The racemes are paniculate, and bear “ovate subacute pods, not

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winged on the back.” I have never met with this form of the plant.

It is matter for regret that year by year the large succulent Lepidia are becoming increasingly rare. Wherever sheep have access to them they are closely eaten off, and speedily die out, although if only a single stem is allowed to mature its fruit seedling plants appear in abundance. Happily for Lepidium obtusatum, it grows in a few spots which are inaccessible to sheep, so that it will probably hold its ground for many years. L. oleraceum is stated by Captain Cook to have occurred in such abundance that he was able to obtain boatloads of it, which proved of good service to his crews when troubled with scurvy; but the plant has become so rare that some New Zealand botanists have never seen it in the recent state.

TillÆa diffusa.

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A very slender herb, with prostrate or erect, matted, filiform stems, 1in.-3in. long, reddish. Leaves opposite, fleshy, 1/12in.-⅛in. long, linear-oblong, flat above, convex beneath, minutely apiculate when fresh, narrowed into a short petiole, petioles connate, forming a membranous sheath round the stem. Flowers on short axillary peduncles, solitary, tetramerous, calyx-segments broadly ovate, obtuse; petals equalling the sepals; scales, 0; carpels, 4, minute, ovate, enclosed in the persistent perianth, 2–4-seeded.

Hab. North Island: Miramar. In places where water has stagnated during the winter.

Allied to T. debilis, Colenso, from which it is distinguished by its larger size, broader leaves, broad obtuse sepals, and 2–4-seeded carpels.

Coprosma buchanani.

A much-branched shrub, 5ft.-10ft. high, branches spreading ascending; bark reddish-grey, papery; branchlets puberulous or pubescent. Leaves opposite, distant, or in opposite pairs on abortive branchlets, ½in.-1in. long, puberulous, obovate, obtuse, narrowed into a short puberulous petiole, minutely ciliate when young; stipules triangular, puberulous or minutely ciliate. ♂ flowers not seen; ♀ solitary axillary, lobes of cupule large; calyx-limb membranous, 4–5-toothed, not ciliate nor pubescent; corolla campanulate, deeply 4–5-cleft, segments acute; stigmas 2, robust. Fruit, 0.

Hab. North Island: Near Cape Terawhiti.

This perplexing plant was first observed by me in 1874, but, although many miles of coast have been carefully searched, I have failed to find the ♂ plant. Mr. Buchanan, F.L.S., in whose honour I have named it, informed me that,

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although it had for many years been known to him in the locality where it was seen by me, he had searched for it in vain elsewhere. As the remaining specimens are few in number, and appear to* be dying of old age, it seems advisable to publish this imperfect description in the hope that it may lead to the discovery of the plant in some other district.

Its nearest ally is C. rigida, Cheeseman, from which it differs in the compact ascending branches, which never divaricate at right-angles; in the larger and broader pubescent leaves, and especially in the ♀ flowers, which have a larger calyx-limb which is never pubescent; In the campanulate corolla, and more robust style. In some respects it approaches C. spathulata, A. Cunn., but is readily distinguished from that species by the much-branched habit and obovate or linear-spathulate puberulous leaves. Its true affinities, however must remain in abeyance in the absence of the ♀ flowers and the fruit.