Botany trip: Larsen Crescent Reserve & Redwood Bush, Tawa
6 November 2022
In tiny but lovely Larsen Crescent Reserve we admired several big mataī and tawa, the latter often with elbow-like branches. In the eighties, this reserve was saved from destruction by developers, thanks to the efforts of regional groups.
We each had a list of native plants growing in the area, with the plants numbered to simplify finding the one we were discussing at any one time. We talked about two species of tree ferns, several plants whose leaves have a pleasant smell or taste and noted the abundance of young kohekohe and wharangi, thanks to intensive pest control.
The first features to impress us in Redwood Bush were the plump, woody vines of kōhia / native passionfruit, sprawling over the ground providing some easily-reached leaves and climbing nearby trees. We lunched sitting on the forest floor, away from the nearest houses and a noisy dog. Beside the track were plenty of ferns, vines and trees to talk about and tick on our plant lists.
We left the main track to scramble up a minor track and sidled along it to a huge puka, a tree that usually starts life as a seedling high on a supporting tree. Over time, the puka sends down a vine-like structure to obtain more nutrients. The striking feature of its fleshy glossy leaves is the uneven base of each leaf on either side of the petiole / leaf stalk. We were thrilled to see and hear a flock of four kākāriki / native parakeets.
Once back down on the main track we appreciated the many well-built steps. Then came a welcome surprise – along the track on our loop return through the reserve we discovered and stopped at each of twenty newly-installed and locally-made plant description panels funded by Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves Inc. Reading each of these illustrated panels reinforced the information we'd learnt earlier in the day. It was pleasing to see one for thread fern, prominent in both reserves.
An exploration around and in the large buttresses of the big pukatea in a gully revealed some epicormic growth displaying characteristic ‘square’ branchlets.
Soon we emerged on Peterhouse Street and walked a short distance up to the other track leading into Larsen Crescent Bush. We ended our trip at our starting point near our parked cars. Six of us then enjoyed hot drinks in a garden setting at the back of a pub on Main Road, Tawa.
- Party members
- Diana Barnes, Robin Chesterfield, Sue Fish, Jane Frances, Liz Martin, Sarah Peters, Kerry Popplewell. Co-leaders - Michele Dickson, Chris Horne (scribe).