Botanising in Otari-Wilton's Bush
28 April 2019
A lovely fine day defied earlier weather reports for a rainy morning. So our little group was not distracted by trying to keep dry, and was ready to observe and absorb more floral gems of information to increase their awareness and enjoyment of the bush. Each had received a copy of the rather large species list, increased further by a few additions from a multi-discipline, 24 hour bioblitz in the park last month.
Special permission had been obtained from Otari staff for access to a non-public area above the blue route, on old tracks which included a ridge and interesting gully. As part of our application for permission, the co-leaders had to submit a risk assessment of possible hazards. The points involved reminded us of what we normally check with members, and the actions that we actually take in emergencies.
Our observations and discussions centred on fine specimens of common forest trees, shrubs, ferns and climbers, thriving well since the pest eradication programmes in place for several years. For assistance with identifying the large trees like rewarewa, tawa, miro and matai, dead or dying leaves on the ground and bark features were used to show the clues. Occasionally an epicormic shoot, growing from the bark lower down gave the answer. Old flowering heads aided identification of a native Iris (Libertia) prominent along a section of track and members were reminded to use the smell of crushed leaves, e.g. of lemon-wood (tarata) and kawakawa and sometimes the scent of flowers when they can be found.
Of particular interest to members were: the many plants of velvet fern, feeling so remarkably velvety when stroked; a huge pukatea tree with its massive plank-buttresses growing in a typical, wet to swampy spot in the edge of the gully; and the many seedling of nīkau, showing the regeneration above the gully. A fruiting tank lilly (widow-maker) at eye-level had developing fruits that were about half size, green, yellow and red, the plant having continued growing after falling with its host tree.
A fine specimen of small-leaved milk tree (tūrepo), still mostly in juvenile stage with small fiddleshaped leaves was much admired. And of course, on the blue trail, most of the group were familiar with the 800 year old rimu but it canít be passed without another good glance.
By mid-afternoon everyone was back at the information centre, sorting their various transports home.
- Party members
- Alan Benge, Robyn Ching, Hera Cook with Twila on the lead, Michele Dickson (co-leader and scribe), Julia Fraser, Ken Fraser, Chris Horne (co-leader), Stuart Hudson, Liz Martin, Tim Stone, Kate Williams.