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Manual of the New Zealand Flora.

4. Epacris, Forst

4. Epacris, Forst.

Usually erect rigid heath-like shrubs. Leaves sessile or shortly petioled, crowded or imbricated, articulated on the branch, never sheathing. Flowers solitary and axillary, often extending along the branches for a considerable distance, sessile or shortly peduncled, white or red. Bracts numerous, imbricating, clothing the peduncle and concealing the base of the calyx. Calyx 5-partite; corolla-tube cylindric or campanulate; lobes 5, imbricate, spreading. Stamens 5; filaments short, adnate to the corolla - tube; anthers affixed above the middle, wholly or partly included in the corolla-tube. Hypogynous disc of 5 free or rarely connate scales. Ovary 5-celled; ovules numerous, attached to a central placenta. Capsule 5-celled, loculicidally 5-valved. Seeds numerous.

A genus comprising 25 species, all of which are confined to Australia and Tasmania, except the two found in New Zealand, both of which are endemic.

Erect, 2–8 ft. high. Leaves ⅙–¼ in., rhomboid - ovate, usually acuminate. Bracts very numerous, acute 1. E. pauciflora.
Erect or decumbent, 1–4 ft. Leaves ⅛–⅙ "" in., broadly elliptical, obtuse. Bracts few, obtuse 2. E. alpina.
1.E. pauciflora, A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 213, t. 29.—A slender erect shrub, usually from 3 to 6 ft. high, but occasionally attaining 8–10 ft. or more, sometimes reduced to a few inches; branches often fascicled, erect, leafy, virgate, puberulous at the tips. Leaves suberect, imbricating, ⅙–¼ in. long, ovate or rhom- boid - ovate or oblong - obovate, suddenly narrowed into a bluntly acuminate point, shortly petiolate, concave, very thick and coriaceous, veinless, glabrous on both surfaces. Flowers small, white, copiously produced towards the tips of the branches. Peduncles shorter than the leaves, entirely concealed by numerous imbricating ovate acute bracts, the uppermost of which closely invest the calyx. Corolla-tube hardly longer than the calyx; lobes spreading, broadly oblong, obtuse. Capsule small.—A. Cunn. Precur. n. 411. Raoul,. Choix, 44; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 166; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 179.

Var. Sinclairii.—Leaves obtuse, not narrowed into acuminate points.—E. Sinclairii, Hook. f. Handb. N.Z. Fl. 179.

North and South Islands: Open clay hills from the North Cape to Collingwood and Westport, but rare and local south of the Waikato and Thames Rivers. Sea-level to 2000 ft. Flowers most of the year. Var. Sinclairii: Great Barrier Island, Sinclair! Kirk!

page 416

E. Sinclairii differs from E. pauciflora in no respect except that the leaves are not narrowed into short acuminate points. But the amount of acumination is so variable in E. pauciflora, the points being longer and sharper in young plants, and shorter and broader or almost absent in old ones, that I can entertain no doubt as to the specific identity of the two plants.

2.E. alpina, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 166.—A small erect or spreading rarely decumbent much-branched shrub 1–4 ft. high, seldom more; branches twiggy, densely leafy, puberulous at the tips. Leaves suberect or spreading, small,⅛–⅙ in. long, broadly elliptical or broadly ovate, obtuse, shortly petiolate, very thick and coriaceous, quite glabrous, concave, veinless. Flowers small, white, numerous towards the tips of the branches. Peduncles short; bracts few, 5–6, broad, obtuse. Calyx-lobes obtuse. Corolla much as in E. pauciflora, but smaller.—Handb. N.Z. Fl. 179. E. affinis, Col. in Trans. N.Z. Inst. xx. (1888) 199.

North Island: Vicinity of Lake Taupo, Colenso, T. F. C.; Tongariro and Ruapehu, Kirk! Hill! Rev. F. H. Spencer! Ruahine Range, H. Tryon! Kaweka Range, Petrie! South Island: Nelson—Ngakawau, Rev. F.H. Spencer; Mount Owen and Buller Valley, W. Townson! T. F. C. Westland—Denniston, J. Caffin! Southern Alps, Sinclair and Haast (Handbook). 1000–4000 ft. December–January.

Closely allied to E. pauciflora, but distinguished by the smaller size and more spreading habit, smaller obtuse leaves, and fewer obtuse bracts.

Three Australian species of Epacris (E. purpurascens, R. Br., E. pulchella, Cav., and E. microphylla, R. Br.) have become plentifully naturalised in open "tea-tree country" in several localities near the Manukau Harbour in the vicinity of Papakura and Drury (Auckland District). The first-mentioned was originally discovered by the late Dr. Sinclair and General Bolton nearly fifty years ago, and was included by Sir J.D. Hooker in both the "Flora Novæ-Zealandiæ" and the Handbook, although he expressed the opinion that it was probably introduced. The two others were first noticed by Mr. A. T. Urquhart (see Trans. N.Z. Inst. xiv. 364, and xxviii. 20). All three species belong to the division of the genus which has the corolla-tube shorter or barely longer than the calyx, and all three have broad acuminate leaves, cordate at the base. E. purpurascens can be distinguished by the large leaves with long pungent points and rather large pale-pink flowers, which are usually most abundantly produced.