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Volume 38, 1905
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Art. XLVI.—Notes on the Subalpine Scrub of Mount Fyffe (Seaward Kaikouras).

[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 12th December, 1905.]


The Seaward Kaikouras, or Looker-on Mountains, are a lofty range running at first almost parallel to the coast of eastern Marlborough, but finally striking further inland. They commence near the mouth of the River Clarence and end at the source of the Conway, whence under other names the chain is continued until it joins the Southern Alps. The highest peaks are Mount Whakari, 2,591 m., and Mount Kaitarau, 2,652 m., but the range as a whole maintains a high altitude. It consists for the most part of dark-coloured shales and of sandstones. The former are very crumbly, and give rise to vast shingle-slips of sombre and forbidding aspect. Mount Fyffe, 1,624 m. in height, is one of the lower peaks, and perhaps the most easy of access. It abuts directly upon the Kaikoura Plain, of which it forms the north-western boundary. The torrential rivers, Kowhai and Hapuka, separate Mount Fyffe from the main range, to which it is joined merely by a narrow saddle.

Regarding the flora of the Seaward Kaikouras little has been published. From their great height, and position with regard to the eastern seaboard of the South Island and to the Inland Kaikouras, from which they. are altogether separated by the Clarence Valley, it might be expected that they would possess some plants of special interest. And this was known to be the case even so early as the publication of the “Flora Novæ,” for in that work the wonderful shrub Helichrysum (Ozothamnus) coralloides is mentioned. Kirk, in the “Students' Flora,” also cites some interesting plants which he had himself discovered—namely, the Ranunculus, Olearia, and Cassinia—which are treated of at some length below. In February, 1902, I collected on Mount Fyffe a rather remarkable Celmisia, which may be an undescribed species, but which in the “Students' Flora” is referred to Cel. sinclairii as “a form with serrated very coriaceous oblong bracts” (p. 285). On the same occasion I also collected an Epilobium, which is referred to below. In 1869 Buchanan published a short paper

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of six pages only dealing with the botany of the Province of Marlborough as a whole.* This contains a very brief account of the distribution of plants on a western spur of Mount Kaitarau. The increase of our knowledge as to species of New Zealand plants since that date shows that in certain instances wrong identifications were made, as is evidently the case with regard to Ranunculus pinguis, Veronica hectori, and Myosotis capitata. Buchanan also came to the curious conclusion that few additions would be made to his list of the alpine plants, since he writes, “There is little doubt that the shepherds employed to search for plants there [i.e., on the Kaikoura Mountains] have pretty well exhausted them.” Mr. R. Brown has collected mosses in the valley of Hapuka, and has described some of the novelties he discovered in the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute.”

My own acquaintance with the Kaikouras commenced in 1902, when in the February of that year I partially ascended Mount Fyffe twice, and once crossed over its summit, following the long spur from the River Kowhai and descending by another spur leading directly from the summit to the plain near the north end of the mountain. A year or two latter Mr. Brown and myself camped for some days near the River Conway, which we followed up to its source and to the Palmer Saddle. Quite recently (October, 1905), in company with Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Matthews, I had the great pleasure of again visiting Mount Fyffe and ascending as before by the Kowhai Spur to a height of about,067 m. During the thirteen years that have elapsed since my first visit my knowledge of New Zealand plant formations has been considerably extended, so that the subalpine scrub at once struck me as being different from any that I had observed elsewhere. Mr. Matthews, whose knowledge of living New Zealand plants and of their stations is very wide, also agreed that the formation in question was quite distinct from any he had seen before. Therefore it seems well to put on record some details concerning it, such publication being the more desirable since at any time the scrub may be in large measure destroyed by fire. If this were the case, it must also be borne in mind that the formation could never reappear in its primeval form.

[Footnote] * Journ. Linn. Soc., Botany, vol. x, 1869, p. 63.

[Footnote] † “On the Musci of the Calcareous Districts of New Zealand, with Descriptions of New Species” (Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxxv, 1903, p. 323).

[Footnote] ‡ Cockayne, L., “On the Burning and Reproduction of Subalpine Scrub and its Associated Plants” (Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxxi, pp. 416–17, 1899)

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2. General Remarks On The Subalpine Scrub Of New Zealand.

Before proceeding with the details of the subalpine scrub of Mount Fyffe, some general remarks on this plant formation and its allied formations in New Zealand as a whole do not seem out of place.

To the various associations of shrubs which are so frequently met with at all altitudes from sea-level to the subalpine region the New Zealand colonists give the name “scrub.” And no word can better express the character of such assemblages, the members of which are of an extremely dense habit of growth, with stiff or wiry interlacing or divaricating branches, seemingly bearing the impress of countless furious gales. Such scrubs are usually related, both ecologically and floristically.

Characteristic stations are the sea-coast between forest and sea-shore (coastal scrub), river terraces in the montane region, and fans of rivers issuing from mountain torrents (terrace scrub and in some cases river-bed scrub), stony beds of glacier rivers near their source, moraines, and the upper margin of the subalpine forest, where the scrub forms a compact and dense belt between the forest and the subalpine meadow. It is to the three last categories that the term “subalpine scrub”* is here applied. Such a formation is not to be encountered on all New Zealand mountains. It is found in greatest perfection on those where the rainfall is excessive and the rainy days numerous, while where the driest conditions prevail it may be wholly wanting, or restricted to a few sheltered spots such as gullies or moist hollows.

Ecologically the subalpine scrub consists of shrubs or low trees, with one exception evergreen, and usually of a xerophytic character. Amongst the more common adaptations of these shrubs are the following: (a) Dense habit of growth, with much-interlacing branches and small leaves; (b) coriaceous hard and stiff leaves, very frequently clothed with tomentum on their under surface; (c) vertical needle-shaped leaves at the extremities of stiff, erect, naked branches; (d) leaves

[Footnote] * In the English translation of Schimper's “Plant Geography,” p. 761. this formation is termed “elfin-wood and shrub,” a by-no-means happy rendering of the German Krummholtz und Gestrauch. It seems to me that the term “subalpine scrub” is much more expressive. As for the Krummholtz, it is represented in New Zealand chiefly by the stunted trees which sometimes form the upper zone of a subalpine forest, and of which Nothofagus cliffortioides, only a meter or so in height, is an excellent example. Such, if they occur in company with other shrubs, I should include in the subalpine scrub Diels also translated Knieholtz as “subalpine scrub” (“Vegetations-Biologie von Neu-Seeland,” p. 261).

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reduced to scale-like organs closely pressed against the shootaxis; (e) recurving of leaf-margin. Many of the plants, too, have aromatic leaves, and a number are hygrophytic in the juvenile and xerophytic in the adult form.

Floristically, the formation under consideration contains a diverse assemblage of genera and orders made up of shrubby veronicas, composites, epacrids, taxads, araliads, and rubiaceous plants, together with certain other shrubs such as Pittosporum rigidum,* Aristotelia fruticosa, Suttonia divaricata, and Gaya lyallii. Herbaceous subalpine and alpine plants grow under the shelter, of the shrubs, where these latter are not too dense, while Phormium cookianum and the giant umbellifer, Aciphylla colensoi conspicua, when present, easily hold their own with the arborescent vegetation.

Such a belt of shrubs may vary much in breadth and height. but it is always most difficult to penetrate, and in some places is all but impassable, unless a track be cut through it. As for the composition of its members, this is far from uniform for all New Zealand mountains. Various plants are dominant in different regions, or even in adjacent scrubs. Thus, at the source of the River Poulter in the Snowcup Mountains the physiognomy of the adjacent scrubs is so entirely different that it is easy to tell at a distance whether Gaya lyallii, Dracophyllum traversii, or Phyllocladus alpinus are dominant. Also, the arrangement, localities. As for the shrubs themselves, some belong exclusively to the subalpine region, such as Nothopanax lineare, Olearia lacunosa, O. illicifolia mollis, O. excorticata, Veronica hectori, V. subalpina, Senecio bidwillii, Dracophyllum traversii, others again, such as Olearia illicifolia, Coprosma propinqua, Cassinia vauvilliersii, Dracophyllum longifolium, and Nothopanax colensoi, are common to all levels from the subalpine to the sea; while, finally, some others are especially plants of “terrace scrub,” such as a number of veronicas, including V. cupressoides.

Notwithstanding the special climatic and edaphic conditions which govern the distribution of the subalpine-scrub vegetation,

[Footnote] * Quite recently on the Tararua Mountains I saw the typical P. rigidum, Hook, f., growing in abundance. It seems to me quite distinct from the above plant, which is common in many parts of the South Island, but in this paper the usual identification may stand.

[Footnote] † Of course, it is not impossible to find stray plants of any region in one to which they do not properly belong. Thus I have observed the truly subalpine and perhaps alpine Ranunculus lyallii at sea-level, Milford Sound, and Helichrysum grandiceps at 400 m. in Westland; but that does not exclude these plants from being considered rightly as plants of a much higher altitude.

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many of the shrubs are easy to cultivate, and have become favourite garden-plants in various parts of Europe, where they are more prized and better known than in New Zealand. Some of the finest are, however, still very rare or unknown in cultivation, as e.g. Olearia lacunosa, O. excorticata, O. capillaris, O. illicifolia mollis, Cassinia albida, and Dracophyllum traversii; but this latter magnificent small tree is not easy to cultivate or to propagate.

3. The Subalpine Scrub Of Mount Fyffe

(a) General Features.

At a height of about 940 m. the subalpine scrub is first encountered upon Mount Fyffe, forming, so far as I could observe, a narrow belt varying in width from perhaps 20m. to 45m. along the upper margin of the mixed forest which thickly clothes the lower parts of the mountain to its base. This scrub consists in very large measure of Cassinia albida, which in many places makes an almost pure formation, and which everywhere far and away exceeds the other plants in amount. Here and there mixed with the Cassinia, but always in small quantities, are the following: Veronica traversii, Veron.leiophylla, Dracophyllum uniflorum, Aristotelia fruticosa, Aristot. colensoi, Podocarpus totara, Rubus australis, Gaya ribifolia, Olearia cymbifolia, O. coriacea, O. forsteri, Senecio geminatus, Coprosma parviflora, Cop. rhamnoides, Phormium cookianum, and Aciphylla colensoi. Of the above some are very rare indeed, only two plants of Olearia coriacea and one of O. forsteri being observed.

Viewed from a short distance the formation appears a mass of sage-green, due to the superabundant Cassinia, with its small leaves green on the upper and white on the under surface, but relieved here and there by the dark-green upright sword-like leaves of the Phormium. As the eye becomes used to the monotone of the Cassinia, other greens, and even browns, become evident—e.g., Veronica traversii, yellowish-green; young trees of totara, these a little taller than the rest of the scrub, and of somewhat the same hue as the Veronica; and Dracophyllum, its close erect needle-like leaves reddish-brown in the mass. Gaya ribifolia is also present in sufficient quantity to make its mark, but at the time of my visit it was leafless. At a later period its leaves of a tender-green, and its wealth of white cherry-like blossoms, must form a striking feature of the scrub.

On the fairly deep soil beneath the shelter of the shrubs are the following herbaceous plants and ferns: Acœna sanguisorbœ, var., forming a carpet over the ground in many places, with the short erect fronds of Lomaria alpina growing through it. Here

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and there, like a pigmy pine-tree, is Lycopodium fastigiatum. Ligusticum aromaticum and Geranium microphyllum are also common, but their lowly habit renders them inconspicuous. More striking, especially when in bloom, is a species of Epilobium, allied to Ep. chlorœfolium, with rather large reddish leaves and very large white flowers. Here and there, scattered through the scrub, where the sheep cannot destroy them, are the large silvery leaves of Celmisia coriacea. But the feature of the undergrowth, and that which gives it its special character, is the splendid buttercup Ranunculus lobularis, with its large orbicular or subpeltate leaves and tall stems crowned with golden-yellow flowers.

The general height of the scrub is some 1·2m. to 1·5m., and the shrubs, themselves of a dense habit, grow closely together. This makes the formation not easy to penetrate, especially where Rubus australis has invaded it from the neighbouring forest and binds the shrubs closely together with the hooked prickles of its petioles and mid-ribs. All the same, this subalpine scrub cannot be put into the same category with regard to its impenetrability as that of a mountain in the western Southern Alps or Stewart Island, or especially such a scrub as occupies the hillsides and valleys of Campbell Island.

(b.) Climate.

Before considering the life-forms of the various members of the subalpine scrub, such details as are available with regard to the climatic conditions to which it is subject must be given. These are, however, very incomplete and quite lacking scientific accuracy. In fact, with one or two exceptions, no meteorological records have as yet been taken in the subalpine region of New Zealand, and none are available for the Kaikoura Mountains. Thanks, however, to the enthusiasm of Dr. John St. C. Gunn, F. R. Met. Soc., statistics are available for the past eight years as to the climate of the Kaikoura Plain at near sea-level. Moreover, Dr. Gunn has very kindly supplied me with some important details as to the climate of Mount Fyffe itself, which have a distinct bearing on the ecology of its plant-covering, regarding which he thus writes to me: “I am sending you the information you ask for. Of course, it can only be approximately correct, but I have discussed the matter with Mr. A. Kennedy, who owns the Mount Fyffe Run, and also with Mr. James Dunbar, the head shepherd at Greenhills, who from many years' experience of the ranges ought to know.”

Taking the seven years from 1897 to 1903 inclusive, the mean yearly maximum temperature was 17°C., the mean yearly minimum -5·9°C., the absolute maximum 34·4°C., the absolute

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minimum—6·1°C., and the mean daily range 11·4°C. Judging from the plants cultivated in gardens at Kaikoura, and which are never damaged by frost—e.g.,Pelargonium sps., and Albizzia lophantha, Benth.—the minimum temperature as given above seems too great, but Dr. Gunn informs me that the frosts are of very short duration indeed.

The average yearly rainfall for the above seven years was 90·8 cm., and the total number of rainy days ninety-nine. The largest fall of rain recorded was 16·87 cm. on the 18th October, 1900. Snow rarely falls, and then only lies for a few hours; but on rare occasions a heavy fall takes place and the ground is white for four or five days.

As for the temperature of Mount Fyffe itself no positive facts can be given. The atmosphere is at times very clear, and then the solar radiation must be considerably greater than on the plain. One has only to ascend the mountain on a perfectly cloudless day to become well aware of this. Allowing the fall in temperature to be 0·5°C. for each 100m., then the temperature at the subalpine-scrub line would be 4·7°C. lower than at sea-level. But such data as this may be very wide of the mark. One thing seems fairly clear—namely, that on all the New Zealand mountains, generally speaking, the cold of winter is not nearly as severe as it is popularly supposed to be; for New Zealand subalpine plants—veronicas, for instance—are almost all not hardy in the neighbourhood of London, but are killed or cut to the ground if the frost be at all above the average.* The length of time that snow lies on a mountain, and the limit of the winter snow-line, is a matter of great moment with regard to the plant-covering—in fact, the winter snow-line is, in my opinion, the point of demarcation between the alpine and subalpine regions, while the average distance to which an average winter fall of snow reaches and remains for a day or two on the lower slopes marks the beginning of the subalpine region proper. The following is supplied by Dr. Gunn: The winter snow-line is, on Mount Fyffe, at a distance of 184m. to 303m. from the summit, and from this point to the top of the peak snow lies for six months during the year. An ordinary winter snowfall

[Footnote] * Numerous instances could be quoted from the English horticultural papers. The following must suffice. Dallimore, W., Veronica traversii, “Garden,” vol. lxvi, p. 391, 1904: “About London it is impossible to grow Veronica speciosa out of doors the whole year round, and of the forty or fifty species in cultivation very few can be said to stand unharmed through a winter of moderate severity. At Kew V. traversii is found to stand the best, though in a severe winter it is damaged, but when a succession of mild winters is experienced it becomes very strong and sturdy, and grows into a bush 2 ½ft. or 3ft. in height and 3 ft. to 4 ft. through.”

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descends to about 909m. altitude, and here it may lie for about a week. From this it can be seen that the subalpine scrub will never be exposed to the heavy weight of snow which will be borne by the alpine plants proper, and that it will have usually no protection from the numerous frosts of winter and from those others which may occur at any season of the year.

During five months of summer the whole of the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains are clear of snow, although occasionally at Christmas there remains a small patch on the south-west flank of Mount Kaitarau, close to its summit. Often, however, in December, November, and October there may be a fall of snow on the mountains which disappears in the course of a day or two.

As for the rainfall, Dr. Gunn points out that even at the base of the mountain it is greater than at Kaikoura, and higher on the slopes it must be much greater still. My experience of Mount Fyffe during my first visit gave me some idea as to the climate of that mountain. When the wind blew from the sea—a very common wind—the mountain rapidly became enveloped in mist, which turned into rain of greater of less violence. On one occasion, only a few drops of rain fell at the base of the mountain, but above, the fall was so heavy as to cause a creek, dry in the morning, to flood the road on either side of its course in the afternoon for a distance of more than 15m. The day on which I climbed to the summit of Mount Fyffe was quite clear in the morning, but at noon a mist gathered on the summit, and in an incredibly short time the rain came down in torrents, and so continued during the whole descent.

(c.) Floristic and Ecological Details regarding the Members of the Scrub.

To come now to the life-forms of the plants. Cassinia albida is, so far as has been recorded hitherto, confined to the Kaikoura Mountains and their vicinity. It is especially distinguished from C. vauvilliersii, of which Kirk considered it a variety, in the tomentum of the under surface of the leaf, which is white or yellowish-white, and not fulvous as in this latter species, and this character gives the shrub a most distinct appearance. There are two forms of C. albida—the one with a thin covering of hairs on the upper surface of the leaf, which is not noticeable without close examination, and does not in the least veil the green of the leaf; the other covered with a mat of fine white hairs on the upper surface of the leaf, so as to give the whole plant the appearance of being covered with dust or afflicted with a mildew. This form, though not nearly so common as the type, is to be encountered everywhere, and

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probably comes true from seed. For it I propose the name “canescens,” which would either be a variety of C. albida, if that be considered a species, or form canescens of C. vauvilliersii. Whatever view be taken matters little so long as so distinct a plant has a name. When growing amongst the scrub Cassinia albida is a shrub of slightly straggling habit, having many branches prostrate towards the base and then ascending, but quite naked except towards their apices. Here are given off from the main axis numerous close, short, erect shoots, ± 13 cm. in length, their lower halves unbranched and densely leafy, but above furnished with many short lateral shoots, given off from the stem at an acute angle, the length of the basal and largest shoots being ± 2·7 cm. Such shoots are also all densely leafy, and the whole erect dense head of foliage may be about 22 cm. long by 20 cm. broad. The leaves are closely imbricating in the bud, but when fully developed are patent, the lamina being bent at right angles to the short petiole. In size they measure about 1·1cm. to 1·4 cm. in length by about 4 mm. in breadth, which is larger than the measurements given by Kirk and Hooker for C. vauvilliersii The var. canescens, at least in my specimens, has rather longer leaves still—1·6 cm. The margins are sometimes faintly recurved. On the under surface of the leaf is a dense tomentum of matted, fine hairs. The shoot-axes are also densely tomentose. The young leaves are extremely glutinous, and give off a somewhat aromatic odour, which is quite evident as one passes through the scrub.

Cassina albida is not only found in the subalpine scrub, but descends to the river-flats on the Kaikoura Plain, where it would probably be more common but for the close growth of Leptospermum scoparium, with which in that situation it can ill compete. This is also shown on the mountain, where if a portion of the forest or scrub be burnt a Leptospermum heath takes possession, and becomes so strong a feature of the landscape that one might easily take it for a primitive formation. C. albida grows readily from seed, and in some parts of Mount Fyffe the montane meadow contains colonies of this plant. In such places are other forms of Cassinia—referrable perhaps to C. fulvida or to C. vauvilliersii—which form a bewildering mixture; or it may be that C. vauvilliersii is in a state of mutation, and that new forms are coming into being at the present time.

Olearia coriacea, of which only two adult and one juvenile specimen were noted, is a plant of considerable interest. During my former visit to Mount Fyffe I had not noticed it, but Kirk had found it there and also in the Awatere district. Notwithstanding that he had no flowering specimens, he described it in the

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“Students' Flora,” p. 276, as he considered it to be a distinct species quite unlike any other. Olearia coriacea is a rather tall shrub, having few rigid rather tortuous branches. Below these branches are naked, but above they branch into short densely leafy twigs. Such leafy part is ±18 cm. long. The leaves are small, extremely coriaceous, shortly petiolate, and covered on their under surface with a very dense tomentum, white with a faint brownish tinge. The upper surface is yellowish-green, strongly marked by the reticulating veins, which give rise on the under surface to distinct lacunæ. The most striking feature about the leaf is its curious curving, the margins being so recurved and the leaf so arching upwards as to resemble a saddle, the apical portions being so recurved as to almost meet, while this part of the leaf curves upwards, ending in a point and thus forming the front of the saddle, the leaf-base being broad and rounded, and the centre forming the hollow. There were no signs of the young inflorescence, but the remains of those of last year showed that it is a short panicle about 3·5 cm. long. In shape, when flattened out, the leaves are ovate or broadly ovate, and the blade measures from about 2·1 cm. by 1·3 cm. to about 1·4 cm. by 8 cm. Growing near by was a plant of Olearia forsteri with small leaves, and one plant of a form of O. cymbifolia with large leaves, and this suggested both to Mr. Matthews and myself that perhaps the plant under discussion may be a hybrid between two latter species.

Phormium cookianum, which comes next in abundance to the dominat Cassinia, is a frequent important constitutent of subalpine scrubs. Its powers of resisting drought are very great, since it often grows also on faces of rock in close vicinity to the sea.

The two Coprosmas and Aristotelia fruticosa are common members of subalpine and river-terrace scrub, having the windshorn habit of so many New Zealand shrubs. The branches are interlacing, and the leaves small. The plants noted of the Aristotelia were not of the extreme xerophytic type that the species frequently assumes, showing in no case the reduction of leaves and the semi-spinous shoots that I have recorded else-where.*

Dracophyllum uniflorum, like some others of its congeners, has erect needle-like leaves, an obvious xerophytic adaptation. Gaya ribifolia is the plant of the drier mountains. It is rather more hairy than its close relation G. lyallii, and there are other differences, one being the “dripping point” to the leaf, at

[Footnote] * Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxxvi (see pl. xviii).

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times a most characteristic feature of this latter species. Although these distinctions are apparently trivial, they are sufficient to keep the two forms distinct from one another; and, although they may approach within a kilometre or two of one another, they are not found mixed together.*

The two veronicas, V. traversii and V. leiophylla, are not especially xerophytic. It is true they are not so hygrophytic in form as Veronica salicifolia and its allies, but they show no very special adaptations for the conditions of life of a subalpine scrub. On the other hand, such conditions in the scrub under consideration do not seem to require very special adaptations, and the extreme xerophylly of Olearia coriacea is out of place. Even the other xerophytes could endure much severer conditions; and it seems here that we have another case of what I have pointed out several times in previous papers—viz., that such xerophytic structure is a survival from a former geological period when large areas of New Zealand were extremely arid.

Xerophytic structures are still more out of place on the floor of the subalpine scrub, and the list given above shows that such are hardly present. The only plant of special interest to be noted is the Ranunculus lobulatus. This was referred by Kirk to Ran. insignis as var. lobulatus, but he had never seen the flowers, and, as he showed, the leaves are very distinct from those of R. insignis. To my mind it is a well-marked species, and its affinities seem rather with R. munroi than with R. insignis. The leaves are large, with long but comparatively slender petioles. The laminæ are thin, reniform-orbicular, narrowly lobed, bright-green on the upper surface, pale beneath, variable in hairiness, but usually glabrous or nearly so on the upper surface, but with more or less very fine white hairs on the under surface and the petiole. Frequently the sinus at the base of the leaf is closed, and all sorts of transitions towards a peltate leaf ensue. The seedling has the first leaves quite entire, and with a cuneate base; the next leaves have an apical lobe; later leaves develop two lateral lobes, and the base becomes rounded and shows traces of a sinus. Evidently the young leaves are arrested stages of the adults. A large leaf may measure (lamina) 17 cm. by 15·5 cm., petiole 25 cm. There were a few flower-buds on some of the plants, and one had a flower nearly open. The sepals are broad, with a notched

[Footnote] * Cockayne, L., “On the Seedling Forms of New Zealand Phanerogams,” &c. (Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxxiii, p. 272, 1901).

[Footnote] † Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol xxxiii, pp. 277–82, 1900; Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. xxxvi, p. 251, 1904; and “The New Phytologist,” vol. iv, No. 4, April, 1905, pp. 84, 85.

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or emarginate apex, and slightly hairy. The petals are six, yellow, rounded or perhaps sometimes emarginate, obovate, 1·3 cm. by 8 cm., and at the base of each is one gland. The peduncle branches near its apex, and in the case examined was 8-flowered.

The other plants of the floor of the subalpine scrub are too well known to require any special mention. Formerly most likely the Ranunculus was far more common, but it can now only exist where secure from sheep. These have been pastured on Mount Fyffe for many years, and have completely changed the aspect of all the formations except those of rocks, the subalpine scrub, and the forest; in fact, up to 1,000 m. there is little, so far as the subalpine meadow is concerned, to point that it belongs to a lofty alpine range.

According to McKay* the Kaikoura Mountains are very young geologically—much younger, indeed, than the Southern Alps. Such a range might be expected to show signs of initial endemism, and this seems to be the case in regard to the Ranunculus, Cassinia, and perhaps Olearia coriacea, dealt with above. On the other hand, relict endemism should, I take it, be absent, whereas the highly specialised Olearia insignis is peculiar to the Kaikouras, their foothills and environs. The remarkable Helichrysum selago also is perhaps a similar case. But before any statement of much worth can be made on this interesting subject, careful lists require to be made of the Kaikoura plants for comparison with similar lists from adjacent more ancient mountains.

4. Summary Of Results.

1. There is a distinct zone of plants between the limit of the forest and the subalpine meadow on many New Zealand mountains, consisting chiefly of xerophytic shrubs, which may be named “the subalpine scrub.”

2. This formation occurs on Mount Fyffe, but differs from typical subalpine scrub in the small number of its species, and in the fact that Cassinia albida, a plant peculiar to that locality, is so abundant as not only to be dominant but in places almost a pure formation.

3. Ranunculus lobulatus, a plant also peculiar to that region, is the principal plant of the ground beneath the scrub.

4. Some of the shrubs are strongly xerophytic, especially another plant peculiar to the range, Olearia coriacea, while others are much more mesophytic.

[Footnote] * “On the Geology of Marlborough and South-east Nelson.” Reports of Geolog. Exploration during 1890–91, p. 5, 1892.

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5. The amount of xerophylly in many New Zealand plants is by no means a measure of their adaptation to present environment, but is more likely a survival from a former geological period when xerophytic conditions were more widespread.

6. The vegetation of the Kaikoura Mountains appears to yield evidence both for and against McKay's theory of the extreme youth of these ranges.

5. List Of Plants Of The Subalpine Scrub.


  • Lycopodium fastigiatum, R. Br.


  • Lomaria alpina, Spreng.


  • Podocarpus totara, Don.


  • Phormium cookianum, Le Jolis.


  • Ranunculus lobulatus, sp. nov. = R. insignis, Hook. f., var. lobulatus, T. Kirk, “Students' Flora,” p. 8.


  • Acæna sanguisorbæ, Vahl, var.

  • Rubus australis, Forst. f., var. glaber, Hook. f.


  • Geranium microphyllum, Hook. f.


  • Aristotelia fruticosa, Hook. f.

  • " colensoi, Hook. f.


  • Gaya ribifolia, sp. nov. = G. lyallii, J. E. Baker, var. ribifolia, F. v. Muell.


  • Epilobium, sp. aff. E. chloræfolium, Hausskn.


  • Aciphylla colensoi, Hook. f.

  • Ligusticum aromaticum, Banks and Sol.


  • Dracophyllum uniflorum, Hook. f.

– 374 –


  • Veronica leiophylla, Cheesem.

  • " traversii, Hook. f.


  • Coprosma parviflora, Hook. f.

  • " rhamnoides, A. Cunn.


  • Cassinia albida, sp. nov. = C. vauvilliersii, Hook. f., var. albida,

  • T. Kirk, “Students' Flora,” p. 315.

  • C. albida, Cockayne, var. canescens, var. nov.

  • Celmisia coriacea, Hook. f.

  • Olearia coriacea, T. Kirk.

  • " forsteri, Hook. f.

  • Senecio geminatus, T. Kirk = Traversia baccharoides, Hook. f., Handb. N.Z. Flora, p. 164.