Art. XX.—On the Naturalisation of Calluna vulgaris, Salisb., in the Taupo District.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, 22nd November, 1909.]
During a short visit to the Taupo district early in February of this year I was told that the Scotch heather (anglice, ling) had become established near the Opepe Bush. I took occasion to visit the locality referred to, and found that this interesting introduction had secured a firm footing over an area of some two or three acres. The plants were in full flower, though most of them were still young, as the ground has repeatedly had fires run through it to clear off the manuka (Leptospermum scoparium, Forst.) that forms the natural plant covering of the district. The fires kill off all the older plants, but great numbers readily grow up from seed, and the species must be considered to have firmly established itself in this locality. How far it has spread by natural causes is at present uncertain, as I do not know how widely the seed was originally sown; but there is every prospect of its spreading readily, as the plant is well adapted to the habitat, and seedlings grow up in the abundance. I was informed that the seed was sown by Major Roberts, till lately Stipendiary Magistrate at Tauranga, during the later part of the war with the Natives in Te Kooti's time. I have been unable to learn from this gentleman the time and circumstances of the sowing of the seed.
It is important that the introduction and establishment of such exotic plants as this should be noted, and its spread deserves to be watched. The land on which the heather grows is a flat dry terrace of pumiceous soil, such as one finds over most of the Taupo and Kaingaroa Plains. A very large area of similar country is available for it to invade. The spot where it is now established is about three-quarters of a mile from the small bush at which Mr. King has fixed his residence. To him I am chiefly indebted for such particulars about its introduction as I have been able to glean.