Art. XXXVIII.—Contributions to a Fuller Knowledge of the Flora of New Zealand: No. 1.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, 3rd October, 1906.]
Under the above title, I propose from time to time to place upon record any additional information respecting the New Zealand flora that appears to be of sufficient importance, either as regards the characters, relationships, properties, &c., of the various species composing the flora, or with respect to their geographical range within the colony. For the present instalment I am largely indebted to the kindness of various correspondents, who have gone to considerable trouble in obtaining specimens and other information, and who have succeeded, in several instances, in bringing to light new facts of interest. My warmest thanks are due to all.
With respect to the local distribution of New Zealand plants, it will not be out of place to take this opportunity of stating that much remains to be done before the colony can be said to be fairly well explored, and before really accurate general conclusions can be arrived at respecting the latitudinal and altitu-
dinal range of the species. Taking the North Island first, the portion between the North Cape and the Upper Waikato has probably been more closely examined for plants than any other part of the colony, and tolerably complete catalogues of the species found in various subdivisions have been prepared. But, even within that area, several districts are imperfectly known—as, for instance, the rugged forest-clad country between Ahipara and Hokianga, and that between Hokianga and the Northern Wairoa, the latter district including the highest peaks north of Auckland. South of the Waikato, the elevated central plateau of the North Island, upon which stand the snow-clad mountain Ruapehu and its neighbours Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, has never been systematically explored, although several botanists have collected in a cursory manner thereon. Considering its position, and its peculiarities of soil and climate, which have left a marked impress on the flora, it is probable that a reliable catalogue of its plants would be more useful to the New Zealand botanist than any other. It is still more remarkable that no complete account of the vegetation of Mount Egmont has yet been prepared, for that issued many years ago by Mr. Buchanan can only be looked upon as a preliminary sketch. The mountain is now so accessible to the traveller, and so easily ascended, that it is to be hoped that some Taranaki botanist will undertake its investigation. The Tararua Range, which probably has the most varied alpine vegetation of any mountain-chain in the North Island, has barely been examined at all. Finally, it can hardly be considered satisfactory that Mr. Buchanan's sketch of the flora of Wellington, prepared more than thirty years ago, and admittedly incomplete at that time, should still be the only list of the plants of the southern portion of the North Island, including the vicinity of the capital of the colony.
In the South Island the eastern side is fairly well explored, although much remains to be done in certain districts, such as the neighbourhood of Mount Stokes, the Kaikoura Mountains, and the extreme south-east of Otago; but the central chain of the Southern Alps is still imperfectly explored, and on the western side of the Island large portions have not been examined at all—in fact, it can be roundly stated that the whole district from Cape Farewell to Preservation Inlet requires a careful scrutiny. The western slopes of the chain of mountains stretching from Collingwood to Mount Arthur and Mount Owen offer a promising field for exploration. Nearer to Westport, the recent researches of Mr. Townson have shown what can be done by a diligent local observer. To the south of Greymouth little systematic work has been accomplished, especially on the mountains; while as regards the West Coast Sounds and the mountains
immediately behind them our knowledge of the vegetation is practically in the same state as it was left by Lyall, more than fifty years ago. It is in this portion of the colony that we may look forward to numerous additions to the alpine flora, and for many fresh observations on the nature and composition of the flora generally.
A descriptive account of the vegetation of Stewart Island, accompanied by a list of species, would be a boon of the first order to the New Zealand botanist, for up to the present time a partial examination only has been made by Messrs. Thomson, Petrie, and Kirk.
It would be easy to mention other localities which are still wanting exploration, or are imperfectly known, but enough has been said to show that, although the leading facts of plant-distribution in New Zealand are known, much of the detail has yet to be filled up. It is to country residents, and to local observers generally, that we must look for much of the information required.
Ranunculus insignis, var. lobulatus.
Dr. Cockayne proposes to treat this as a separate species under the name of R. lobulatus (Trans. N.Z. Inst., xxxviii, 1906, 373). I am only acquainted with it through a single flowerless specimen in Mr. Kirk's herbarium; but this, as I have stated in the Manual (p. 11), has a very distinct appearance, and I suspect that Dr. Cockayne is quite right in the course he has taken.
I am indebted to Mr. J. H. Macmahon for specimens of this, collected in Queen Charlotte Sound.
Mr. H. J. Matthews informs me that this is not uncommon at West Wanganui Inlet, to the south of Cape Farewell. This is the first recorded locality on the west coast of the South Island.
According to Mr. H. J. Matthews, this is abundant on the banks of the Pelorus River (Marlborough), between Brownlee's Mill and Canvastown, where it grows intermixed with P. betulinus and P. divaricatus.
Gaya lyallii, var. ribifolia.
Dr. Cockayne has given this the rank of a species, under the name of G. ribifolia (Trans. N.Z. Inst., xxxviii, 373). He appears to rely principally on the more incised and less pointed leaves, with a more copious stellate pubescence on the under-surface. No doubt it is a well-marked variety, but I cannot accept the differences as being sufficient to separate it as a species.
Mr. J. H. Macmahon informs me that a few plants of this are still to be found in Resolution Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, but that it is fast verging towards extinction in that locality.
Elæocarpus dentatus, var. obovatus, Cheesem., n. var.
Leaves broadly obovate; blade 2–2 ½ in. long by 1 ¼-2 in. broad, rounded at the apex, at the base rather suddenly narrowed into a long slender petiole. Flowers not seen.
Riwaka (north-west Nelson); H. J. Matthews!
A very distinct variety, respecting which fuller information is much desired. Although E. dentatus is a variable plant, I have never seen specimens with the leaves so broad and obtuse.
At the present time this is so rare in the wild state that most New Zealand botanists are only acquainted with it as a cultivated plant. Its rarity has induced some writers to question its nativity in New Zealand—as, for instance, the Rev. R. Taylor, who suggested that it originated in the Bay of Islands from a box of seeds taken by the Maoris from a French ship which they had plundered! It is perhaps hardly necessary to observe that this ingenious hypothesis does not explain how, in that case, the plant could have been previously gathered by Banks and Solander in both the Bay of Islands and East Cape districts. Mr. Taylor also neglects the pertinent fact that C. puniceus has never been found in any other country but New Zealand. However, the present distribution of the plant is so restricted that it is in every way probable that within a few years it will have disappeared in a wild state. Under these circumstances it appears desirable to particularise those localities where there is reason to believe it is truly native, or has been within the memory of those living.
I. Bay of Islands and Whangarei.—Motuarohia Island, Banks and Solander, according to Solander's MS. (1769). Taranaki Island (at the mouth of the Kerikeri River); Colenso (Trans. N.Z. Inst., xviii, 292), Rev. R. Taylor, Bishop Williams, and others. Mr. Colenso also states (Trans. N.Z. Inst., l.c.) that it was also found “on two or three of the smaller islets of that bay.” Limestone Island (Whangarei River); R. Mair, who informs me that in 1843 there were numerous fine bushes of it in this locality, and that it lingered as late as 1880. Mc-Leod's Bay (Whangarei Heads); R. Mair, who observed a few plants in 1850. In this locality it disappeared shortly after the establishment of European settlers and their cattle.
II. Other Northern Localities.—Great Barrier Island; Kirk (Trans. N.Z. Inst., i, 150). Thames; Kirk, “Students' Flora” (now extinct in a wild state). Flat Island, near Howick; T. F. C.; not uncommon in 1878, but has been extinct for many years. Mercury Bay; A. Cunningham, in his “Precursor,” gives this as a locality where it had been collected by the missionaries in 1833. I have been unable to find any evidence that it still exists in the district.
III. East Cape District.—Anaura Bay (Tigadu) and Tolago Bay; Banks and Solander! 1769. Still exists on Motu-o-roi Island, off Anaura Bay; Bishop Williams. Banks of the Hikuwai River, flowing into Tolago Bay; not uncommon as far back as 1844; Bishop Williams. Is still found at a gorge twelve miles inland from Tolago Bay, and on cliffs at Tokomaru Bay; H. Hill. East Cape Island; Bishop Williams: still fairly plentiful; Mr. Arnold. Mangatokerau Gorge, beyond Waiapu; Tiniroto; road to Morere; still found in all three localities; H. Hill. Back of Maraetaha (Poverty Bay); fairly plentiful in 1841 and succeeding years, but now extinct; Bishop Williams. Taikawaka (near Whareongaonga, Te Kooti's landing-place); fairly plentiful; H. Hill. Cliffs on Lake Waikaremoana, and gorge near the Reinga Falls; not uncommon; H. Hill.
From the above list it is evident that the plant had a fairly wide distribution, chiefly on or at the base of cliffs in littoral districts. Its disappearance is doubtless due to cattle, which greedily eat it, and soon exterminate it in any locality to which they have access.
Mr. Hill informs me that in the East Cape localities the flowers vary considerably in colour, size, and in the shape and relative proportions of the petals. At Waikaremoana the flowers are comparatively small and reddish-purple. At Tolago and Tokomaru the flowers are large, and the standard very broad, with a whitish stripe on each side near the base. A white-flowered
variety is stated by the Maoris to grow on the Tiniroto cliffs—possibly it may be identical with the white-flowered form sometimes cultivated in gardens.
Cobb Valley; F. G. Gibbs! Wangapeka Valley; R. I. Kingsley.
Mount Luna, Upper Wangapeka Valley; R. I. Kingsley.
It appears desirable to specify the inland localities in which the pohutukawa occurs, so far as they are known, with a little more detail than is given in the Manual.
Lake Rotorua.—Mokoia Island, and cliffs on the northern shore of the lake from Kawaha Point and Hamurama to the Ohau Channel; H. J. Matthews, C. B. Turner, T. F. C.
Lake Rotoiti.—Cliffs on the northern shore of the lake, plentiful and of large size, less generally distributed on the southern shore; H. J. Matthews, C. B. Turner, T. F. C.
Lake Tarawera.—Before the eruption of Tarawera Mountain in June, 1886, the cliffs along the greater part of the northern shore were clothed with pohutukawa, which attained a luxuriance only inferior to that which it exhibits on the coast-line of the northern portion of the Auckland Provincial District; Kirk! Captain G. Mair. At the present time it is still fairly plentiful, mainly from the new growth of the old trees broken down by the eruption. According to Mr. H. J. Matthews two solitary trees occur in the Waikaripo Bush, some distance from the southern shore of the lake, and about three miles west of Lake Rotomahana.
Tarawera River.—Abundant along the banks of the river almost as far as Matata; Colenso, Captain G. Mair, T. Kirk, H. J. Matthews.
Lake Okareka.—Cliffs on the eastern shore, scarce; H. J. Matthews, T. F. C.
Lakes Okataina, Rotoehu, and Rotoma.—Fairly plentiful along the shores; H. J. Matthews.
Lake Rotokawau.—A few small trees on the cliffs; H. J. Matthews.
Lake Taupo.—Plentiful on Motutaiko Island, but of small size; T. Kirk, H. Hill, T. F. C. Also on Whakaipo Bluff, where
it attains a fair size; and on several of the headlands between Whakaipo and Taupo Township.
Lake Waikaremoana.—In several localities on the cliffs fringing the lake; Colenso (1841), H. Hill, C. B. Turner.
West Wanganui Inlet; R. I. Kingsley. The only station yet recorded for the west coast of the South Island.
I am indebted to Mr. J. H. Macmahon for specimens of this, collected on Motuaro Island, Queen Charlotte Sound. This is doubtless the locality where it was originally discovered by Forster, although he does not specifically mention where he collected his specimens.
Summit of Mount London, between the Southern Wairoa and the Firth of the Thames; E. Phillips Turner.
Mr. Guthrie Smith has sent me a specimen of this collected on the Tutira Run, near the head-waters of the Mohaka River, Hawke's Bay.
Head of the Dart River, Otago; H. J. Matthews.
I have received a specimen of this collected on Mount Fyffe by Mr. H. J. Matthews. It has rather thinner leaves than Kirk's type, but does not otherwise differ. Mr. Matthews states that plants of O. forsteri and O. cymbifolia were growing in the same locality, and suggests that it may be a hybrid between these two species. When flowering specimens are obtained it will be interesting to note whether these show any tendency towards the reduction in the number of florets which is such a singular characteristic of O. forsteri.
In the Manual I have followed Sir J. D. Hooker in treating this as a variety of O. nummularifolia. Further study, however,
has convinced me that it is a distinct species, which should bear the name of O. cymbifolia.
Cassinia vauvilliersii, var. albida.
This has been separated as a distinct species by Dr. Cockayne, under the name of C. albida (Trans. N.Z. Inst., xxxviii, 1906, 374). As he remarks, it is distinguished from the typical state by the tomentum on the under-surface of the leaf, which is white or pale-yellowish-white and not fulvous. This character gives the plant a more distinct appearance than might be supposed, so that it is more readily separated from C. vauvilliersii by a cursory inspection than some states of C. leptophylla from C. retorta, or C. fulvida from C. leptophylla. All the New Zealand species of Cassinia are very closely allied and difficult of discrimination. With it, as with several other New Zealand genera—e.g., Veronica, Gentiana, Epilobium, &c.—there seems to be no middle course between largely reducing the number of species—which is opposed to the present tendency of systematic botany—or accepting as distinct a considerable number of closely related forms. The course to be followed in the present instance will depend largely on the point of view and personal judgment of the observer, coupled, of course, with a full consideration of the evidence available. The variety or species—whichever it may be called—appears to be abundant along the seaward face of the Kaikoura Mountains, extending in a westerly direction as far as the Clarence River and the middle portion of the Wairau Valley, where I gathered a form referable to it many years ago.
West Wanganui Inlet, to the south of Cape Farewell; H. J. Matthews. This shows a considerable northwards extension of the range of this fine plant. Mr. Matthews informs me that it has been advantageously employed for garden-hedges in the south of the South Island.
Abundant on D'Urville Island; H. J. Matthews.
Mr. J. H. Macmahon informs me that this occurs on Motuaro Island, Queen Charlotte Sound, but I have seen no specimens. It has been recorded from Stephen Island.
A memoir on some points in the morphology of this species, by Agnes Robertson, D.Sc., is printed in the “Annals of Botany” for July, 1906 (p. 260).
Mrs. H. J. Matthews forwards undoubted specimens of this species collected at Rotorua.
To this I refer, with some doubt, a pink-flowered species collected by Mrs. H. J. Matthews in the vicinity of Rotorua. In most respects it agrees with Berggren's plate and description, with the exception that the lateral lobes of the column-wing are not so slender as represented by Berggren.
This species also has been gathered at Rotorua by Mrs. H. J. Matthews. Her specimens are larger and stouter than those collected by myself to the south of Lake Taupo, and have more numerous and rather larger flowers, but the structure of the flowers is precisely the same.
Among Leptospermum scrub near Cowes, Waiheke Island; J. H. Harvey!
Mr. R. H. Matthews, of Kaitaia, sends a curious variety with the flowers entirely green, showing no sign of red whatever.
Summit of Mount London (Kohukohunui), between the Southern Wairoa and the Firth of the Thames, altitude 2,000 ft., E. Phillipps Turner. The most northerly locality recorded.
In the Manual I have alluded to the fact that branched specimens of the nikau palm are occasionally seen. One figured
and described by Mr. Percy Smith (Trans. N.Z. Inst., x, 357, t. 15) is well known to New Zealand botanists; and a photograph of a curious 6-branched specimen is given in Laing and Blackwell's “Plants of New Zealand” (p. 89). I have now to record two additional instances. The first was found about eighteen years ago at Kaiwaka, North Auckland, by Mr. D. A. Mackenzie, of Waipu. From the accompanying sketch for-
warded to me by Mr. Percy Smith, to whom it was given by Mr. Mackenzie, it will be seen that the main stem has been injured, causing the death of the terminal bud. The injury has evidently led to the production of a lateral branch on each side, one of which has, by successive forking, produced three branches, the other two. This specimen is interesting on account of the proof which it affords that the branching was due to some injury to the terminal bud. For my knowledge of the second instance, which is the most remarkable yet recorded, I am indebted to Mr. H. J. Matthews, the head of the Forestry Department. It was recently found in the State forest reserve at Puhipuhi, between Whangarei and the Bay of Islands. Its height is about 30 ft., and it possesses no fewer than seventeen branches. The health and vigour of the tree is undiminished,
and there is no sign of any previous injury. The excellent photograph given to me by Mr. Matthews, which I reproduce herewith (Plate XI), will give a better idea of the mode of branching than any description of mine.
Peaty swamps near the outlet of Lake Tongonge, near Kaitaia; R. H. Matthews! This is an interesting and most unexpected discovery, the only other locality known on the mainland being the large peaty swamps between Hamilton and Ohaupo, in the Middle Waikato district.
Fairburn (Mongonui County); H. Carse! A marked northern extension of the range of this species.
Summit of Mount Blairich, Marlborough, altitude 5,000 ft.; J. H. Macmahon!
Westport district, at Giles's Creek, and in the lower portion of the Buller Valley; W. Townson!
In several localities in the Westport district, as Giles's Creek, Millerton, and road to Charleston; W. Townson!
This also occurs in several localities in the Buller Valley, near Westport; W. Townson! Mr. A. Frood informs me that he has a crested variety in cultivation, found near some small lakes along the sea-coast opposite to Te Kopuru, Northern Wairoa.
Banks of the Buller River, near Westport; W. Townson! The most southern locality known to me.
A form with the tips of the fronds regularly crested is now in cultivation in Mr. G. E. Smith's fernery at Aratapu, Northern Wairoa.
According to Mr. Percy Smith, the Maori name for this plant is “raupiu.”
I hear from Mr. G. M. Thomson that this is rapidly spreading in several streams in eastern Otago. It first appeared in the Waikouaiti River, then in the upper part of the Waipahi, and quite recently in the Pomahaka. No doubt it will ultimately find its way into the Clutha and other large streams.
Waiharakeke Stream, Piako; J. H. Allen! I believe that this is the first recorded instance of the occurrence of this species in New Zealand.
This is increasing rapidly in the Auckland district.
Mr. H. E. Potter, of Brookby, Auckland, has forwarded specimens of this species, which he states has appeared in some quantity in newly sown grass paddocks in his district. So far as I am aware, this is the first record of its occurrence in New Zealand.
Near Ohaupo, in the Middle Waikato district; A. V. Macdonald! Apparently the first appearance in New Zealand of a very undesirable immigrant.
Vicinity of Marton, Wellington Province; W. Townson! The first specimens I have seen on the western side of the Island.