March in the hills with Chris Horne and Michele Dickson
Olearia lacunosa, , lancewood tree daisy
Origin of the botanical name
Olearia comes from the name of a German botanist, Johann Gottfried Ölschläger (1635-1711), his surname latinised to Olearius, which means “oil presser”; lacunosa comes from the Latin word “lacuna”, meaning a gap or cavity and describes the sunken interspaces formed by the lateral veins on the underside of the leaf. Lancewood tree daisy is a member of the daisy family, called the Asteraceae or Compositae.
Distribution and habitat
Lancewood tree daisy is endemic to New Zealand. It occurs on Te Ika a Māui/North Island from the Tararua Range southward, and on Te Waipounamu/South Island, mainly in the west, to South Westland. Look for it in subalpine forest or scrub up to the bush-line. Like its sibling of the same genus, leatherwood*, it is adapted to harsh mountain conditions. (* Tramper November 2011).
Lancewood tree daisy is a small tree up to 5 m tall, sometimes with many trunks. The orange-brown bark flakes in long, thin strips. The branchlets and undersides of the leaves are clad in rusty or tawny fuzzy hairs/tomentum. The very leathery narrow leaves are up to 17 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, dark green on the upper surface and have lightly curled margins. The midribs are stout and pale. Numerous, stout, prominent lateral veins at almost right angles to the margins give a pitted, minutely wrinkled appearance. The leaves grow in alternate pairs or terminal clusters.
Lancewood tree daisy flowers from November to February and sets seed from January to February. Female and male flower parts appear on the same composite flower, several of which comprise flat topped clusters. Each composite daisy flower has several white broad ray florets surrounding small yellow disc florets in the middle. The white of the flowers and their perfume attract pollinating insects. Each fruit, 2-3 mm long, contains one seed covered with hairs which facilitate its distribution by the wind.
We have been unable to find any references to uses for lancewood tree daisy, other than emergency shelter. If you hear of another use, please tell us.
Where can you find lancewood tree daisy?
Look for it in the Akatarawa Range on Maunganui, 708 m, and in the Tararua and Remutaka ranges in the subalpine zone.