New Zealand Plants and their Story
The beautiful inlets of Stewart Island derive their charm in large measure from the assemblage of trees and shrubs along the water's edge, especially when the southern rata (Metrosideros lucida), its boughs almost dipping into the water, has burst into flaming crimson. In similar situations the inuka (Dracophyllum longifolium) and the smaller New Zealand flax (Phormium Cookianum) are common.
Where the coastal scrub of Stewart Island is densest, it has received the name of "mutton-bird scrub." This consists largely of the puheritaiko, a very fine shrubby groundsel (Senecio rotundifolius) (fig. 33), which makes an excellent garden plant even as far north as Auckland. The leaf is frequently 4 in. or more in diameter, and is covered so closely with a mat of buff-coloured hairs on the under-surface that it can be written upon. The leaf may thus be made to serve as a post-card, which can be posted at the most southerly office in Australasia—that on the Isle of Ulva, in Paterson Inlet.
Fig. 34.—The Purple-flowered Daisy-tree (Olearia angustifolia), growing at the Neck, Stewart Island. The tree on left is 10 ft. tall, its trunk 1 ft. 3 in. in diameter, and the rounded crown 21 ft. through.
Lands Department.] [Photo, L. Cockayne.
Veronica elliptica, the coastal shrubby veronica, mentioned above, deserves a few words. In the first place, it is one of our South American connections. When fairly sheltered it is a fine upright-growing shrub, covered closely on its outer twigs with rather thick palish-green small leaves. Like all the other veronicas, its flowers have only two stamens. The corolla is at first bright purple, but soon fades to white. The scent of the flowers is delicious. It is abundant in the Auckland and Campbell Islands, the Snares, Stewart Island, the west coast of the South Island, and the east coast to about as far north as Dunedin. From the remainder of the South Island it is absent, but appears again on the shore of Cook Strait at Titahi Bay, near Wellington. Strange to say, it extends no farther to the north, though it grows freely from seeds, and may be cultivated at any point on the New Zealand coast.