Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - pincushion plant

TPP has been on the road (left side) visiting New Zealand, doing some southern hemisphere avoidance of January weather in North America.  For that part of it the trip was highly successful.  Given that NZ plants are highly endemic, something like 80% of woody plants grow no where else, except of course for those brought to NZ by people who wanted to see a sycamore for some damned reason.  TPP shall expand a bit more on this topic and his plant bucket list as he catches you up.  In addition to being on go, a lot, dealing with iffy wifi was a nearly constant issue, and when you advertise "free wifi" you should actually make it easy to access, not nearly impossible.  
OK, well, we needs a NZ flower.  And what with all the non-natives, southern Magnolia was in bloom nearly everywhere, finding a nice native plant is not as easy as it sounds.  However TPP's travels included a trip on the tranzalpine RR over the southern alps with an overnight in Arthur's Pass.  Our B&B hostess decided that an old botanist would do better starting at the top, not the mountain top, but the top of Arthur's pass, and walking down to the so-called village, spending the rest of the time observing the biology.  TPP does not do mountain (tree, ladder, social) climbing, but the pass is subalpine and above the tree line.  Lots of nice alpine plants grow in the area, and all incorporated into a National Park.
If you have ever visited an alpine/subalpine zone, you have observed many so-called "moss" or "pincushion" plants.  These are all low-growing, small-leaved plants forming a dense mat.  As a result they all look rather similar vegetatively, but if in flower, they often give away the identity.  This is an very dense, quite firm pincushion plant with a few remaining flowers pushing to the surface.  Isn't that grand?  Fortunately the couple of remaining flowers helped with the ID, Donatia novae-zealandiae, in the Donatiaceae, its own family!  It is quite close to Sylidiaceae, another family you are probably unfamiliar with. In some places a species of sundew poked its leaves up through the crown of this very short shrub.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dearest Phactor,

any chance of a habitat shot? Not too many sub-alpine habitats here in southern Portugal.

Thank you for all your posts.


PS also more ferns and fern-allies please!