The Native Flora of Claudelands Bush
[Read before the Auckland Institute on October 6, 1952; received by Editor, December 9, 1954.]
The history of Claudelands Bush from 1864 to the present day is briefly discussed and followed by a list of the native plants found in the area.
This is a reserve of nearly thirteen acres, actually within the boundaries of the City of Hamilton. In 1933 I made a detailed survey of it, and embodied the results in a thesis which I wrote for the National Diploma of Horticulture.
In most respects this bush may be taken as typical of the Waikato Plain.
As will be seen later, man's actions have profoundly affected the ecology of the plants found in the bush reserve. Contrary to what might have been expected from the nature of the surrounding country, the original extent of the bush was not great. In 1933 I was able to take down an account from the lips of a man (David Henry) who came here as a boy of ten in 1864, the date of the founding of Hamilton. Though he was so young, he helped his father to build their house near the present reserve. When the boy was perhaps eleven years of age, the family took up a soldier's allotment of fifty acres about five miles north of the reserve. As he lived for forty years there, my informant saw the bush pass through all the shrinking stages. Another point is this: he was familiar with all the larger trees of the native bush—matai, kahikatea, rimu, totara, tawa, hinau, titoki, rata, pukatea and “waiwaka” (as he called it).
In 1933 I collected accounts from three other men who remembered the bush since 1870, and their statements confirmed those of the first informant. When I motored around the district with one of these men (James Primrose) I was shown the boundaries of the early bush, the position of the timber mill and of the tramline, etc. From these accounts I have found the following facts:
The western edge of the present reserve is practically the original edge; the ground now occupied by the Showgrounds was, in 1864 and onwards, covered with flax, manuka and cabbage-trees. A few cabbage-trees are still dotted about the grounds, while there are a great many on the edges of the bush, and a few giants in the centre of the bush.
For some distance, the eastern edge of the bush is the original. The ground is drier and higher here, and extension of the bush was thus prevented.
There was no totara in the bush, though there is a large misshapen one growing half a mile away on sandy ground in the Southwell Bush.
There was no rata (M. robusta) standing, but it is found in the soil of the surrounding districts.
There were a good many large rimus.
A great deal of cutting was done in the Claudelands Bush. Thus every large rimu and every large matai were cut out. An experienced bushman tells me that many large kahikateas were left standing because they were twisted and therefore too hard for pit-sawing and splitting, or because the bush was so wet that giant logs could not be taken easily from the centre.
From 1864 until 1927 cattle were allowed in the bush. It is difficult to over-estimate the influence of the animals during those 63 years, both in eating the vegetation and in compacting the soil.
The bush was much wetter than it is now. It was a typical kahikatea forest—at least in parts—with holes three to five feet deep filled with water. The drying of the bush is largely the result of a too-efficient system of drainage, for a drain with sump-holes at 33-foot intervals runs along the western side and prevents any accumulation of surface water.
It seems that the wind is hardly to blame, for, as we have seen, the western and eastern edges are practically the original. Still, there was on the western side a stretch of manuka which would break the force of the wind, so that the air could merely filter through. To check the wind, the authorities planted many clumps of native flax (Phormium) along the western edge in 1923. These have had some effect, though many of them failed to establish themselves. In 1951 a line of mixed trees and shrubs was planted outside the flax. (It included Aristotelia serrata, Pittosporum tenuifolium, Hoheria populnea.)
The northern edge was defined in 1902 or 1903, when Boundary Road was cut through the bush.
The south-eastern edge is much older, and was defined about 80 years ago, when Hukanui Road was made.
Changes Since 1933
After studying my photographs and my account of the bush as it was in 1933, I have to make the following remarks:—
The bush—i e., the floor, is drier. Indeed, it is now too dry, and that is probably why so many large pukateas are dying.
The giant kahikateas are becoming more stag-headed—i.e, bare at the top.
Epiphytic astelias are far fewer, chiefly because so many pukateas have died, but ground astelias (A. nervosa) are slightly more numerous.
The ferns generally are increasing greatly, except where the Wandering Jew weed has checked or even killed them. Tree-ferns have increased wonderfully, especially Dicksonia squarrosa and Cyathea dealbata.
There has been a great increase in shrubby Coprosmas.
Lianes are far less numerous than in 1933. Many have been cut by boys and other vandals.
There has been a great increase in Uncinia spp., Carex spp. and Microlaena avenacea.
Opossums have come to the bush. Their scratches are to be seen on many trees, especially mahoe. In some parts there are fallen leaves of cabbage-trees and epiphytic astelias which bear the marks of their chewing.
The following have not been found by me in the Claudelands Bush, though they are growing in many other parts of the Waikato Basin.
Miro, yet it is in nearly every other piece of bush of an acre or so.
Sarcochilus adversus, though I have found it in the Southwell Bush less than half a mile away.
Tmesipteris tannensis; probably the reason is that nearly all the old Dicksonia squarrosa trees were killed by stock or knocked down by vandals.
A splendid mangeao tree—the only one that I know for miles round. It is a male tree.
Several plants of Blechnum discolor, a fern which prefers higher ground than the Waikato Plain.
A few colonies of Ctenitis decomposita, a very rare fern in the Waikato Basin.
Beds of Arthropteris tenella, where there is plenty of light, and where the ground is well drained, especially at the north end of the bush. This fern is found in only a few parts of the Waikato Basin.
[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]
Note: D = dominant; A = abundant; F = few; (1) = 1 specimen or group.
Leptopteris hymenophylloides; (A. Rich.), Presl—F.
Lygodium articulatum; A. Rich.—(1).
Hymenophyllum demissum; (Forst. f.), Swartz—F.
H. tunbridgense; Smith—(1).
Dicksonia squarrosa; Swartz—A.
D. fibrosa; Col.—F.
Cyathea dealbata; Swartz—D.
C. medullaris; Swartz—F.
C. colensoi?; (Hook. f.), Domin.—(1).
C. cunninghamii; Hook. f.—(1).
C. smithii; (Hook. f), Domin.—F.
Hypolepis tenuifolia; (Forst. f.), Bernh.—F.
Paesia scaberula; (A. Rich.), Kuhn—F.
Pteridium esculentum; (Forst. f.), Diels—F.
Histiopteris incisa; (Thunb.), J. Smith—F.
Pteris tremula; R. Br.—F.
P. macilenta; A. Rich.—F.
Pellaea rotundifolia; (Forst. f.), Hook.—A.
Adiantum affine; Willd.—(2).
Arthropteris tenella; (Forst. f.), J. Smith—A. in parts.
Polystichum vestitum; (Sw.), Presl—F.
P. richardi; (Hook), J. Smith—F.
Rumohra adiantiformis; (Forst. f.), Ching—(1).
R. hispida; (Sw.), Copeland—F.
Ctenitis glabella; (A. Cunn.), Copeland—A.
C. decomposita; (R. Br.), Copeland—F.
Cyclosorus pennigerus; (Forst. f.), Copeland—A.
Athyrium australe; (R. Br.), Presl—A.
A. japonicum; (Thunb), Copeland—F.
Blechnum filiforme; (A. Cunn.), Ettingsh.—A.
B. lanceolatum; (R. Br.), Sturm—F.
B. procerum; (Forst. f), Labill.—F.
B. discolor; (Forst. f.), Keys—F.
Doodia media; R. Br.—F.
Asplenium falcatum; Lam.—A.
A. lucidum; Forst. f.—A.
A. bulbiferum; Forst. f.—D.
A. bulbiferum var. laxum; (R. Br.), Hook. f.—F.
A. flaccidum; Forst. f.—A.
Pyrrosia serpens; (Forst. f.), Ching—A.
Microsorium pustulatum; (Forst. f.), Copeland—D.
M. diversifolium; (Willd.), Copeland—A.
Grammitis billardieri; Willd.—F.
Anarthropteris dictyopteris; (Mett.), Copeland—F.
Podocarpus spicatus; R. Br.—(2).
P. dacrydioides; A. Rich.—D.
Dacrydium cupressinum; Solandr.—F.
Freycinetia banksii; A. Cunn.—A.
Oplismenus undulatifolius; Beauv.—A.
Microlaena avenacea; Hook. f.—D.
M. stipoides; R. Br.—F.
Mariscus ustulatus; C. B. Clarke—F.
Gahnia xanthocarpa; Hook. f.—F.
Uncinia riparia (= australis); R. Br.—A.
U. riparia var banksii; C. B. Clarke—F.
U. filiformis; Boott—A.
Carex comans; Berggr.—F.
C. dissita; Solandr.—A.
C. dissita var. lambertiana; Cheeseman—F.
Rhopalostylis sapida; Wendl. and Drude—(1).
Juncus polyanthemos; Buchenau—F.
Ripogonum scandens; Forst. f.—F.
Cordyline australis; Hook. f.—A.
Astelia solandri; A. Cunn.—F.
A. nervosa; Banks and Solandr. ex Hook. f.—F.
Collospermum hastatum; (Col.), Skottsberg—F.
Phormium tenax; Forst, J. R. et G.—F.
Earina mucronata; Lindl.—F.
Corybas trilobus; (Hook. f), Reichb. f.—(1).
Pterostylis banksii; R. Br. ex A. Cunn var. banksii.—(1)
Paratrophis microphylla; (Raoul), Druce—A.
Knightia excelsa; R. Br.—F.
Mida salicifolia; A. Cunn.—F.
Muehlenbeckia australis; Meissn.—A.
M. complexa; Meissn.—F.
Clematis indivisa; Willd.—(1).
Hedycarya arborea; Forst., J. R. et G.—F.
Laurelia novaezelandiae; A. Cunn.—A.
Beilschmiedia tawa; Benth. et Hook. f.—D.
Litsea calicaris; Benth. et Hook. f.—(1).
Carpodetus serratus; Forst., J. R. et G.—F.
Pittosporum tenuifolium; Banks et Sol. ex Gaertn.—F.
P. cornifolium?; A. Cunn.—(1).
Rubus squarrosus; Fritsch—F.
R. schmidelioides; A. Cunn.—F.
Acaena sanguisorbae; Vahl.—F.
Alectryon excelsum; Gaertn.—A.
Elaeocarpus dentatus; Vahl.—F.
E. hookerianus; Raoul.—F.
Aristotelia serrata; (J. R. et G. Forst), W. R. B. Oliver—F.
Hoheria populnea; A. Cunn.—F.
Melicytus ramiflorus; Forst, J. R. et G.—D.
M. lanceolatus; Hook. f.—F.
M. micranthus; Hook. F.—F.
Tetrapathaea tetrandra; (Banks et Sol.), Cheeseman—A.
Leptospermum scoparium; Forst., J. R. et G.—F.
Metrosideros diffusa; Forst. f., W. R. B. Oliver—A.
M. perforata; (J. R. et G. Forst.), Rich.—A.
Myrtus bullata; Solandr.—F.
Eugenia maire; A. Cunn.—(1)
Fuchsia excorticata; Linn. f.—F.
Haloragis erecta; (Murr.), Schindler—F.
Nothopanax arboreum; Seem—(1).
Schefflera digitata; Forst., J. R. et G.—A.
Pseudopanax crassifolium; (Sol. ex A. Cunn.), C. Koch—F.
Leucopogon fasciculatus; (Forst. f.), A. Rich—A.
Suttonia australis; A. Rich.—D.
Olea cunninghamii; Hook. f.—F.
O. lanceolata; Hook. f.—F.
O. montana; Hook. f.—(2).
Geniostoma ligustrifolium; A. Cunn.—D.
Parsonsia heterophylla; A. Cunn.—D.
P. capsularis; (Forst. f.), R. Br.—F.
Calystegia sepium; (L.), R. Br.—F.
Solanum nigrum; Linn.—F.
S. aviculare; Forst. f.—F.
Coprosma robusta; Raoul—A.
C. lucida; Forst., J. R. et G.—F.
C. australis; (A. Rich.), Robinson—(1).
X C. cunninghamii; Hook. f.—F.
C. rotundifolia; A. Cunn.—F.
C. areolata; Cheeseman—A.
C. tenuicaulis; Hook. f.—A.
C. tenuicaulis var. major (hybrid); Cheeseman—F.
C. tenuicaulis X areolata; (fide W. R. B. Oliver)—F.
C. propingua; A. Cunn.—F.
Alseuosmia quercifolia; A. Cunn.—F.
Olearia rani; (A. Cunn.), Druce—F.
Brachyglottis repanda; Forst., J. R. et G.—F.
Sonchus oleraceus; Linn.—A.
I wish to thank the following for their help with the identification of specimens: Dr. H. H. Allan, Dr. W. R. B. Oliver, Mrs. Smith (nee Miss Lucy Cranwell), Miss M. Crookes, Miss Molesworth, Mr. Zotov, Miss L. Moore.
It will be observed that I have followed the nomenclature of Cheeseman's Manual of New Zealand Flora (1925) in most cases, but by the advice of Dr. H. H. Allan, who is at present revising the Manual, I have adopted the new nomenclature for the genera Metrosideros, Astelia, and Rubus, and for all the ferns except the genera Hymenophyllum and Trichomanes.
Mr. M. C. Gudex
6 Union Street