Title: Early New Zealand Botanical Art

Author: F. Bruce Sampson

Publication details: Reed Methuen, 1985, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: F. Bruce Sampson

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Early New Zealand Botanical Art


page 73

Plate 21 Exocarpus bidwillii

This curious, many-branched shrub looks much like a conifer when in fruit (figure 4), for the leaves are reduced to scales and the fruit has a superficial resemblance to that of, say, totara (Podocarpus Mara), with a fleshy, red aril below what looks like a black seed. What appears to be a seed in Exocarpus is, in fact, a fruit and when flowers are present (figure 3) it is obvious that the plant is not a conifer. Another curious feature of Exocarpus, which is shared by many other members of the sandalwood family (Santalaceae), is that it is a root parasite. Long roots of the plant attach themselves to the woody roots of one or more hosts and these penetrate them and absorb nourishment from the sap of the host. Host plants include mountain beech (Nothofagtis solandri var. cliffortioides), manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and species of Dracophyllum, Hebe and a conifer, snow totara {Podocarpus nivalis). Exocarpus bidwillii is the sole New Zealand species and is confined to montane and alpine regions in the South Island mountains. The specimen that formed the basis for Joseph Hooker's description was collected by John Bidwill (1815-53) from the Wairau mountains, near Nelson. Walter Fitch did the painting and lithograph. There are twenty-five other species of Exocarpus distributed in Australia, Malaysia, Indo-China and the Pacific islands to Hawaii.

Figure 1, branch and two inflorescences of unopened flowers; figure 2, opening flower bud; figure 3, flower; figure 4, branch with a fruit (the red fleshy aril below the black fruit is morphologically the top of the flower stalk); figure 5, bisected fruit and aril; Figure 6, embryo, removed from the top of the seed. (From Flora Novae-Zelandiae)

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Plate 21 Exocarpus bidwillli Hook f. Walter Fitch (in J. D. Hooker's Flora Novae-Zelandiae)

Plate 21 Exocarpus bidwillli Hook f. Walter Fitch (in J. D. Hooker's Flora Novae-Zelandiae)

Plate 22 Knightia excelsa (rewarewa or New Zealand honeysuckle)

The painting shows nearly mature flower buds. Each flower has four, fused, petaloid, perianth segments, free only at their tips. At flowering they split apart and each becomes curled up near the base of the flower. Inside are four pollen-bearing stamens and a central carpel, which becomes the fruit. The buds are clothed with reddish-brown hairs, giving a velvety appearance, difficult to illustrate but nicely shown in this painting. Rewarewa is found in lowland and lower montane forests up to 1,000 metres in altitude throughout much of the North Island. It reaches as far south as the Marlborough Sounds in the South Island. The trees are tall, slender, spire-like and reach up to thirty metres high. Young plants have juvenile leaves longer and narrower than those found on adult plants. Rewarewa and toru (Toronia toru) are the only New Zealand members of the protea family (Proteaceae), which is abundant in Australia and South Africa.

Courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

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Plate 22 Knightia excelsa R. Br. (New Zealand honeysuckle or rewarewa) Martha King

Plate 22 Knightia excelsa R. Br. (New Zealand honeysuckle or rewarewa) Martha King