Tag Archives: new zealand
Mystery Plant Identity Revealed

Mystery Plant Identity Revealed

Posted 22 August 2010 | By | Categories: Gardening, Links, Plants | Comments Off on Mystery Plant Identity Revealed

pittosoporumcrassifolium2-1.jpg

A while back, I sent out a question via Twitter to see if anyone could identify this plant I was seeing explode all over the neighborhood. I asked everyone I passed on my walks if they knew and still couldn’t find the answer, so I printed out the pictures and took them to a meeting of the Wellington Botanical Society for help. (Thank you BotSoc!) I’m pleased to present you these images of Karo, also known as Pittosporum crassifolium.

Though Karo is naturally coastal, it’s apparently new to find it farther South than Poverty Bay. It seems to be doing very well this year on Wellington’s Eastern peninsula. It certainly sounds like a good match for the conditions. According to Trees for Survival, a site with good resources on New Zealand native plants, it’s an excellent shelter plant that’s extremely resistant to wind, and particularly good near the
coast where salt spray makes it hard for other plants to establish.

In traditional Maori medicine, a gum is extracted from the bark and used by itself or together with that of pūhā (Sonchus species) as a cure for bad breath, sore gums or other ailments of the mouth.

Karo - Pittosporum Crassofolium

Karo - Pittosporum Crassofolium near Tarakena Bay

How to identify your own mystery plants

Recently I’ve received a few personal plant ID requests I didn’t recognize – this is one area where all of us is definitely better than one of us. Harness the power of crowdsourcing and cognitive surplus by posting your image and question to a forum for identifying specific plants or a regional botanical or gardening group. Here are some active ones that might be helpful:

Foraging New Zealand

Foraging New Zealand

Posted 24 April 2010 | By | Categories: Food | Comments Off on Foraging New Zealand

Thank you Jesse Mulligan for mentioning Garden.Geek.NZ on the Auckland Drive radio show. Here are some more resources on foraging for kai in Aotearoa.

At right is the collaborative New Zealand food and fruit sharing map New Zealand Fruit and Food Share Map (view larger) highlighting fruit and nut trees, and other natural urban food sources. You can add listings and details for things you find out in the world.

Freedom Fruit Gardens is an exciting project that aims to plant edible gardens through New Zealand for for communities to harvest and enjoy instigated by artist A.D. Scierning. The inaugural planting takes place Friday, June 25, 2010 in East Otara, Auckland in conjunction with Te Tuhi centre for the arts, and future installments are planned for Wellington and Christchurch. A proposal for the Wellington Freedom Fruit Garden will be exhibited at the New Dowse on June 19, 2010.

Another abundant and easily overlooked food to forage is the delicious and nutritious seaweed decorating our coastlines, the “treasure of the tides.” One type, karengo (porphyra) is a delicacy closely related to Japanese nori and Welsh laver and considered a taonga by Maori. In New Zealand, it may be gathered in the wild for personal use. See Scoop’s “Would you like seaweed with that?” article for more details and Pacific Harvest for recipes and cooking tips.

    Wild Picnic, a gallery of edible and useful wild plants found in Wellington, serves up some tips for safe foraging:

  • 1. If in doubt, don’t eat it.
  • 2. Avoid foraging from roadsides and polluted places.
  • 3. Avoid areas that may have recently been sprayed.
  • 4. Get permission before foraging on someone else’s property.
  • 5. Get to know NZ’s poisonous plants so you can know what to avoid.
  • 6. Harvest sustainably.

Other sites of interest:

Useful books:

What are your favorite foraging sites and tips?

Life and Death For The Win

Life and Death For The Win

Posted 12 March 2010 | By | Categories: fungi, Gardening, Inspirations, Plants | Comments

Pictures of Life and Death Garden Ellerslie Flower Show image by Ben Campbell

Delighted to read that “Pictures of Life and Death,” a garden featuring fungi, lichen and moulds by a team from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens took first place at the Ellerslie International Flower Show in Christchurch, New Zealand this week.

Pictures of Life and Death GardenJeremy Hawker, Christchurch Botanic Gardens Botanical Services Team Leader, describes it as a “dramatic, theatrical exhibit where fungi, mould and lichen will thrive. There will be a sense of being below the earth and looking out to a glimpse of blue sky, hence the name Pictures of Life and Death.” Inspired by the mold in Hawker’s coffee cup, the Botanic Gardens’ team spent months foraging for mushrooms throughout the region that they continued to grow on decomposing logs to include in the exhibit.

The Human Flower Project offers this as an example of bellephobia trending. Technically speaking, fear of beauty is “callophobia,” but only a phobophile would care about such details. I’d like to see it as an example of the dawning recognition that indeed, fungi can be exquisitely beautiful. Look at the love shown for the plant life in Avatar (another winner made in New Zealand and undoubtedly influenced by the work of Paul Stamets).

Here are some gorgeous views of the garden and an interview with Sheena Baines, the co lighting designer, who describes it as “The whole sequence is based on death and life and the cycle. We basically destroy the earth with volcanoes and earthquakes and then we rebuild it. It’s kind of death and destruction spawns new life.”

Green Roofs for Auckland

Green Roofs for Auckland

Posted 27 February 2010 | By | Categories: Green Roofs, Growing Food, Health, Make Things, Plants | Comments

Emily Harris Dream to Reality Entry from Emily Harris on Vimeo.

Emily Harris has a wonderful vision of establishing rooftop gardens for Auckland city-dwellers, so that they can grow their own fresh, healthy food, right on the roof of their apartment buildings.

I’d love to see it become a reality. Let’s make it happen in Wellington too! If you like Emily’s plan and want to help make it a reality, vote for it with a thumbs up at HappyZine’s Dream to Reality competition.

Vegetable Sheep

Posted 20 February 2010 | By | Categories: Gardening, Plants, Vegetables | Comments Off on Vegetable Sheep

Captivated by New Zealand’s vegetable sheep via Anne Galloway (Raoulia and Haastia species, not to be confused with sheep made from vegetables). You can listen to the story of one good sheep captured in Canterbury and sent to the Auckland Museum. If you want to grow these “extremely dense, cushion forming perennial with tightly packed rosettes of overlapping, oblong, gray-hairy leaves,” at home, here are cultivation notes. More beautiful photos and notes at botany.cz.

    1. 8 Most Important Doctors by Malcolm Harker via Love PlantLife

    2. 1. Pure oxygen-rich, nutrient dense water and foods
    3. 2. Sunlight and fresh air
    4. 3. Love and laughter
    5. 4. Appropriate exercise
    6. 5. Bare contact with the earth and elements
    7. 6. Firm breathing
    8. 7. Relaxation, meditation, music and sound sleep
    9. 8. Being at peace with oneself and in harmony with the environment
  • The Foodprint Project, a collaboration between Nicola Twilley (Edible Geography) and Sarah Rich, kicks off a series of international conversations on urban foodscapes and opportunities to transform our edible landscape through technology, architecture, legislation and education. First event: Saturday February 27 in NYC.

  • Homegrown Evolution’s self-irrigating planter resources.