04 June 2008

Endangered native plants on Taranaki - Dactylanthus (also known as a wood rose).

 An endangered native Taranaki plant is being closely watched by the Department of Conservation while it is in flower. DOC has caged nearly 200 Dactylanthus plants in Egmont National Park to prevent attacks from hungry possums.
The Dactylanthus is New Zealand's only completely parasitic flowering plant, depending on host plants like horopito, kamahi and toro for sustenance.

It grows as a root-like stem attached to the root of a host tree. The host root moulds into the shape of a fluted wooden rose and through this placenta-like attachment, the Dactylanthus draws all its nutrients.
The plant is pollinated by rats and mice.
They nibble the flowers then carry the pollen on their whiskers to other plants.

Meanwhile in South Taranaki, another rare plant, the miniature buttercup, has been a victim of the summer drought. Usually thick leaves and a prostrate position protect the tiny buttercup from dehydration but his year's harsh drought hit the tiny flower hard.

DOC ranger Jim Clarkson says the plants are counted every six months.

"Some have died because they come from a nice sheltered environment but we started to see new plants springing up which suggests that the population was becoming self sustaining and that's what we want," Mr Mace says.