New Zealand Plants and their Story
Lowland and Montane Tussock Meadows
Lowland and Montane Tussock Meadows.
The tussock meadows of the montane regions and, the plains are of great commercial importance. They are, in fact, the home of those vast flocks and herds on which the prosperity of the Dominion so largely depends. The study of their plants is therefore of high economic interest.
Foremost come the grasses, replaced, now in so many cases by those of Europe, and by the host of introduced weeds. Some of these indigenous grasses are most valuable for stock. The tussocks belong especially to two species—Poa caespitosa and Festuca rubra. As a food for stock the poa is not of much moment, but Festuca rubra is of considerable value. The blue-tussock (Poa Colensoi) forms much smaller tussocks than either of the above, and is a most valuable economic grass. Another grass of great importance is the blue-grass (Agropyron scabrum), still more or less abundant in some localities. The various forms of Danthonia pilosa and D. semiannularis are very important indeed, since they will tolerate burning and increase naturally upon the poorest ground, where they are probably of more value than any European grass that can be used. This must not lead the farmer to suppose that "danthonia," as all these different forms are called in the papers and by the seed-merchants, will ever replace rye-grass, cocksfoot, or red-clover in the better land. There, undoubtedly, the European grasses surpass any of the native ones; but these latter owe their importance to their suitability for poor ground and high country.
On the lower meadows certain plants with more or less conspicuous flowers are to be met with. Here are some of the buttercups (Ranun-page 88culus hirtus, R. multiscapus), the slender bluebell (Wahlenbergia gracilis), the pretty Convolvulus erubescens, the creeping Dichondra repens, the yellow Oxalis corniculata, the small daisies (Lagenophora petiolata, L. pumila), and the little Geranium microphyllum.