New Zealand Plants and their Story
Botany of the Small Coastal Islands
Botany of the Small Coastal Islands.
The small islands near the coast are of extreme botanical interest, and sometimes of great beauty. Some are quite in their virgin condition, while others have been changed by man, especially where the lighthouse-keepers lead their solitary lives.
Fig. 37.—Interior of Forest of Stephen Island, showing spreading limbs of the Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile). The slender upright stems are those of Macropiper excelsum.
Lands Department.] [Photo, L. Cockayne.
Open Bay Island, off the coast of south Westland, is in its virgin state. It would be an unpleasant experience to pass a night there, since in its peaty soil, honeycombed by the holes of petrels, veritable leeches and wetas of huge size and formidable aspect abound. The vegetation consists of a most impenetrable scrub of kiekie (Freycinetia Banksii), almost the last survivor of a forest which must have clothed these islands long ago, when connected with the mainland of Westland. Very interesting, too, must be the Three Kings, where Mr. T. F. Cheese-man found abundance of that magnificent tree, supposed to be almost extinct, the puka (Meryta Sinclairii).
Only a brief reference can be made to the Poor Knights, recently visited for the first time by Captain Bollons and the author, where the big snail, Placostylis Hongii, is still abundant, and where the arborescent vegetation consists largely of Suttonia divaricata, an unexpected plant. Nor can the coastal meadows of Southland, white with gentian and eyebright, be described, nor the cliff vegetation of the Nuggets, where an alpine celmisia clothes the barren rock; nor many other charming spots, lapped by the many-voiced ocean. Sufficient, however, has been said to show that we need not climb into the clouds to find our wild flowers, and that those who are wont to take their pleasure sadly by the seashore may find there a field of new interest.