Tōtara – Podocarpus totara

Tōtara is a forest giant, with a massive woody trunk that holds aloft thousands of sharp needle-like leaves. It’s name is probably a reference to these spiky leaves, as the word tara in Māori means spike or thorn and is used for other spiky animals and plants.  Tōtara is covered in thick, stringy bark and can live for over 1000 years. It earned the respect … Continue reading Tōtara – Podocarpus totara

Mānuka – Leptospermum scoparium

Culture & History Despite being perhaps one of the more important native plants in New Zealand, for most of the 20th century Mānuka was viewed as a noxious weed. Farmers especially loathed the plant, viewing it as a costly nuisance that prevented them from developing areas of hill country. When a black sooty mould fungus caused widespread devastation of Mānuka it was seen as a cause for celebration and … Continue reading Mānuka – Leptospermum scoparium

Charles Darwin – Part 1

When Charles Darwin arrived in New Zealand in December of 1835, he was near the end of his legendary round-the-world voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. The trip turned out to be monumentally important; not only for Darwin who described it as “by far the most important event in my life, and has determined my whole career”,  but also for the world as it provided him … Continue reading Charles Darwin – Part 1

Nīkau – Rhopalostylis sapida

History & Culture In the early Miocene (around 23 million years ago) New Zealand had a much warmer climate and contained distinctive tropical elements in its flora. Palms were common at this time, and even included species of Coconut – such as the small fruited Cocos zeylanica. As a result of glaciation and cooling, these species have been removed from the landscape, with only one … Continue reading Nīkau – Rhopalostylis sapida