Botany trip, Johnston Hill Reserve, Karori
16 November 2014
We seven, equipped with copies of lists of native and introduced plants and birds, walked up Hatton Street from Marsden Village, Karori, to the entrance of this fine reserve. In perfect conditions, we 'botanised' so intensively up the road to Fletcher Lookout that we took 1.5 hours to travel a mere 150 metres. In that time we discussed some of the ways to identify plants: the shape and size of their leaves, their colour, top and underside, how they are arranged on the branches, how they feel to the touch, and how they smell when crushed. The profuse flowering of rangiora this spring was past its best, the trunks of kohekohe trees still bore last season's grape-sized fruit and several fern species had attractive groups of young fronds. It was an ideal opportunity to put into practice the ID tips in our articles on mamaku in the March 2014 Tramper and on ponga/silver fern in the April 2014 issue.
Throughout the day, we were impressed to see the results of Greater Wellington Regional Council's (GWRC) pest-animal control work, which began about 2001. We checked that a GWRC possum bait station still contained fresh bait, and saw a box with a DOC 200 trap used to kill rats, stoats, weasels and hedgehogs. The seedlings of numerous species, whose leaves are browsed by possums, and others whose seeds are eaten by rodents, were everywhere to be seen.
After scroggin in the sun at the lookout, as we dawdled around the Circular Walk, we tried to recall the names of the plants we had seen earlier and discussed plants we had not seen so far that day. Repetition is as crucial in plant ID as it is in any endeavour. Unfortunately, the reserve needs Wellington City Council to do intensive weed control – everything from the ubiquitous Darwin's barberry, to a large English holly, blackberry, gorse, broom, flowering cherry, veld grass, montbretia, wandering willie, pseudopanax hybrids, non-Wellington lacebark, karo and several other invasive plants.
Finally, from the junction of the Circular Walk and Penlington Track, we descended the Hauraki Street Track. Here we saw a mataī, noted the remarkable, violin-shaped leaves of small-leaved milk tree/tūrepo, were impressed by several massive old māhoe trees, and numerous nīkau seedlings which appeared to be self-sown, evidence of the actions of tūī and kererū.
- Party members
- Peter Barber, Cecil Duff, Ken Fraser, Chris Horne & Barbara Mitcalfe (co-leaders), Peter Shanahan, Diana Sikloski