Botany Trip - East Harbour Regional Park
10 November 2013
At the entrance to the Muritai Track, on Muritai Road, Eastbourne, we discussed the plan for the day, gave everyone a copy of a list of native plants noted during a recce, and Greater Wellington Regional Council's park brochure. The list included the botanical and common name of each plant, and where known, its Māori name. In addition, each plant was numbered, to simplify finding it on the list.
We discussed relevant botanical terms such as dicotyledons or monocotyledons; indigenous or adventive, epiphytic or terrestrial. We asked our group to identify any of the common plants around the entrance such as tītoki, karaka, taupata and kawakawa, before slowly working our way up the track. It rises 200 m in a series of zigzags, traversing faces, gullies and spurs, and thus several forest types including coastal broadleaved communities, regenerating shrublands, black beech forest and hard beech forest. We stopped frequently to identify plants, ask and answer questions, and take photographs. With us was Jeremy Rolfe, DOC Technical Adviser, Flora, who used his Nikon D800 camera and 105 mm Micro lens to magnify the flowers of tiny orchids so that we could see their structures in detail, and admire their beauty. The white flowers of a small native iris, Libertia edgariae, were conspicuous trackside in open areas, as was the native insectivorous sundew, Drosera auriculata. In our 3.5-hour botanising we added to the list eleven plant species and two native bird species.
After lunch at the top of the track, having accepted the prior invitation of club member, George Gibbs, we went south along the ridge, into his QEII National Trust Open Space covenant. He showed us the hemi-parasitic red mistletoe, Peraxilla tetrapetala, which he had planted on a black beech tree. On the steep route down to his and Keena’s house, we saw a c. 1.5 m x 0.6 m specimen of this mistletoe in full flower, on a black beech branch high in the canopy and, later, through a window near their kitchen, saw another planted specimen.
We thank George and Keena for the cool lemon drinks they gave us, and for inviting us to their property. We shall send the updated lists to the Council and the NZ Plant Conservation Network.
- Party members
- Rhonda Billington, Katie Cornish, Diana Gibbons, Richard Grasse, Diane Hill, Pam Mayston, Kath Offer, Jeremy Rolfe, Marris Weight, Barbara Mitcalfe & Chris Horne (co-leaders / scribes).