Waimapihi* Reserve, Aro Valley, Botany Trip
Sunday 17 October 2021
Our group of 13 gathered at the Highbury bus terminal from where we were soon sheltered from Wellington-style zephyrs gusting to 120 km/h and lashing the forest canopy.
We had come to talk plants, hoping to impart to and glean from one another pieces of information as the plants we saw were discussed. The Highbury Fling Track, leading off from the Zealandia perimeter, was the start of our walk. Native forest was regenerating, with numerous plantings by a community group. Everyone carried a plant list prepared by the co-leaders on which people were able to tick the native plants we identified and make notes about features useful in plant recognition. We added seven tree species and one tree-fern species to the list during the day. ‘Bikes’!, ‘joggers’! were regular calls as other track users passed us, with much consideration, on the tracks we used, Highbury Fling and Transient.
We observed and discussed the differences between the ponga / silver tree fern and mamaku / black tree fern and between leaves of patē / Schefflera digitata and five-finger / Pseudopanax arboreus. The number of ‘fingers’ can vary a little on these plants. Mention was made of Pittosporum ralphii / a karo, a slightly more northern native species not naturally occurring in the region but now often found here, and Hoheria populnea / a native lacebark from much further north, now naturalised locally while the only lacebark species originally in our bush has become rare.
The liane Parsonsia heterophylla aroused discussion about its various forms, life stages and site variability. Very little was seen of the other liane on the list, bush lawyer / Rubus cissoides, perhaps happily (although any ripe berries would soon be eaten by anyone who was starving!).
The foliage and capsules of mānuka and kānuka required comparison, with examples of the capsules of each and the feel of the rather harsh leaves of mānuka against the softness of kānuka leaves providing answers.
We noted that young nīkau palm plants had been planted in gullies to increase the numbers of the few existing plants. After noting a few trees almost dead from possum browsing, it was heartening to see young Fuchsia excorticata plants and a thriving older one in a gully. At one point on the Highbury Fling, a kārearea / New Zealand falcon flew low not far above the track, and for some moments we observed a tīeke /saddleback, not too concerned about people, flitting with a pīwakawaka / fantail close by. Also heard were squawking kākā, kākāriki / parakeet and riroriro / grey warbler. We enjoyed lunch sitting on the forest floor in a sheltered possy below steps down from Panorama Drive.
On a lower section of the Transient Track, we passed several mature holly trees, a Tasmanian blackwood and a couple of rhododendrons that had become established in the bush. With the looming threat of rain, a conscious push was made to get to the shelter of Aro Café and the bus stop while we were still dry. Hot drinks and chatting rounded out our day as the rain came.
- Party members
- Diana Barnes, Bill Black, Andrew Carman, Hera Cook and ‘Twyla’, Julia Fraser, Ken Fraser, Michele Dickson (scribe, co-leader), Chris Horne (co-leader), Kair Lippiatt, Peter Reimann, Anna Shum-Pearce, Sue Scott, Robert Tredger
- WCC proposes to use this name for the three contiguous blocks: Waimapihi Reserve, Polhill Reserve and George Denton Park.