April 2017 – Giant moss

A giant grows at Aongatete. It’s not a tree or a fern or a flower – it’s a moss. It is the Giant moss, the tallest moss in the world. Mosses are usually short, like green carpet under the trees, but the Giant moss looks like a miniature forest of pine seedlings. Up to 50cm tall, a forest of Giant moss grows along the banks of the track near the Aongatete swimming hole. The Giant moss only grows in New Zealand and its scientific name is Dawsonia superba, Dawsonia aft...
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January 2017 – Rata

Everyone loves the pohutukawa with its crimson canopy of flowers. But fewer people know its cousins, the rata trees and vines. Several vine species grow in the forest at Aongatete and it is a white rata that is flowering at present. Each flower, like that of the pohutukawa, is a tiny cup filled with nectar and fringed with stamens. Tui and honey bees love the nectar. Amongst our climbing rata species there are several with white flowers, one with spectacular pinkish...
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July 2016 – Kohekohe

Mid-winter in the forest is a hungry time for nectar-feeding birds. They welcome the flowers of the kohekohe, which is flowering now. With its big, divided leaf and dangling clusters of waxy, white flowers, it looks too showy and exotic for our native forest. For the kohekohe is special, being the only member of the tropical mahogany family which is native to New Zealand. Kohekohe flowers are unusual in that they sprout in bunches directly from the tree trunk or branches. This is thou...
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May 2016 – Rare fern discovered

The king fern is a magnificent plant. Its glossy fronds grow up to three metres long and a metre wide. It looks rather like a big tree fern without a trunk. The king fern belongs to a tropical family and only grows in lowland forest from Kaitaia to the Bay of Plenty. Once it was very common and its large, starchy root was an important food for Maori in pre-European times. But now it has been decimated by pigs, which dig up and eat the roots, and by deer and goats which browse the fronds. Kin...
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