Notes on NZ Botany

I thought this very interesting:

“New Zealand’s native flowers, although diverse, are not well known for the spectacular colours and complex shapes seen in many other parts of the world. Many produce simple flowers in plain white or yellow. A few exceptions exist, such as bluebells, but even these blooms fade quickly to plaer tones. New Zealand was isolated from the rest of the world when specialised pollinators such as long-tongued bees and butterflies evolved. Our more primitive native insects have primitive short tongues, and lack colour-sensitive vision.
CelmisiaTo attract the attention of moths, flies and beetles – the main pollinators – some native alpine flowers, as the prolific Celmisia daisies, wave their flowers on long stalks. These ‘flowers on stilts’ are effective, and it is not unusual to see a daisy with an insect on every flower head.
Wind, so often the enemy which desiccates alpine plants, becomes a friend to help distribute pollen and, later, seed. Tussocks use wind to great effect and produce vast quantities of airborne seeds. Daisies are famous for their numerous seeds, too, which can lift into the air on the faintest of breezes.” (p.44)

Also a point worth noting: “Maori were the first alpine botanists in new Zealand, and many of our native alpine plants have Maori names. Korikori is the name of one of the commonest buttercups, Ranunculus insignis, found from East Cape to Kaikoura. Sundews were known by the name of wahu, also common in lowland bogs. Unfortunately, we will never know the names of the early Maori botanists who observed and named these plants.” (p.49) [Does that mean the oral histories don’t speak of them?]

Ref: Shaun Barnett (?) Heads in the Clouds. New Zealand Geographic, pp.34-55

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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