July 24, 2017

Did You Say Kaikomako?

Plants from Middle Earth

Garden Maine’s New Zealand Extravaganza – Celebrating a Completely Unexpected Journey

Anna Paton Photo | Pennantia corymbosa - Kaikomako

Anna Paton Photo | Pennantia corymbosa – Kaikomako

Anna Paton Photo | Pennantia corymbosa - Kaikomako

Anna Paton Photo | Pennantia corymbosa – Kaikomako

Sitting happily under the canopy is Pennantia corymbosa, a dioecious tree endemic to New Zealand (see explanation below). Growing upwards of 30 feet in height, Kaikomako looks quite different in its youth, with the leaves resembling the shape of a duck’s foot. A juvenile tree looks more a like a shrub than a tree. According to Taranaki Educational Resource Research Analysis and Information Network, “Eventually one stem will predominate, growing upwards and developing the larger adult leaves. Many trees have the juvenile leaves lower down and adult leaves above.” The mature tree will have thick, leathery leaves with more rounded teeth. The creamy white flowers of the female tree are wind-pollinated, producing shiny black drupes. As for that name of Kaikomako, it is Maori for duck’s foot.

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Photographs kindly provided by Anna Paton of Auckland, New Zealand, at Auckland Botanic Gardens in November 2012. For a brief interview with Anna, click to read here.

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“New Zealand’s flora is described as being unique due to our long isolation many thousands of years ago. We have some 2,357 different plant species and approximately 80% of them are endemic, meaning they don’t occur anywhere else in the world.”

– From the Auckland Botanic Gardens website

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How did all this come about? You can read about how Janine Pineo of Garden Maine found Anna Paton, more than 9,000 miles away, as the crow flies. If a crow could fly 9,000 miles like that. Click here for that story.