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Forest Vines to Snow Tussocks: The Story of New Zealand Plants


page 9


It is now 60 years since the third edition of Cockayne's New Zealand Plants and their Story was published. A fourth edition, edited by E. J. Godley, appeared in 1967 with the text virtually unchanged, but with updated botanical names and references in footnotes to more recent information. In the preface to this edition Godley says: 'Dr Leonard Cockayne died in Wellington on 8 July 1934 at the age of 79, seven years after the third edition of this book appeared. The publication of a fourth edition would probably have pleased him, in showing that his story was not forgotten and in making it again widely available. But I think too that he would have criticised us — for he was a forthright man — for not having produced something to take its place.'

The aim of the present book is not to replace Cockayne's account, which, as Godley states, is 'a classic of New Zealand botanical literature', but to build on it by reviewing the increased knowledge of New Zealand plants and their communities, living and fossil, gained over the past 60 years. As with New Zealand Plants and their Story, identification of species is not the primary purpose of this book. A number of guides to the identification of various groups — ferns, trees and shrubs, alpines - already meet that need. The emphasis is on a representative selection of species, their life styles, their interesting and peculiar features, their histories and relationships, presented within the framework of their communities. In addition, general characteristics and peculiarities of the flora and theories relating to them are reviewed.

As is the case with most general accounts of the floras of countries, this book is chiefly concerned with the larger and more conspicuous vascular plants — ferns and their relatives, conifers and flowering plants. The generally smaller mosses, liverworts, lichens, fungi and seaweeds are equally numerous and diverse in New Zealand, but that is a story that others are better qualified to tell.

page 10

I hope that this book will be useful to the interested layperson, to students and to botanists both in New Zealand and overseas. I have tried to avoid technical terms as much as possible, but the use of botanical names for species, as well as common names where these are well-established, seemed unavoidable. The overseas botanist is unlikely to find 'supplejack' or 'bush lawyer' very meaningful, but Ripogonum scandens and Rubus cissoides will convey a great deal about our species from features shared with their relatives elsewhere.

The book derives in large part from courses given at both graduate and undergraduate levels and also over a number of years to Workers' Educational Association classes.