August 17, 2017

Jewel in the Crown

Plants from Middle Earth

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

Pamela Rogers Photo | Blechnum discolor - Crown fern

Pamela Rogers Photo | Blechnum discolor – Crown fern

Editor’s Note: We have a royal flush on The Daily Plant, courtesy of Pamela Rogers of New Zealand. In honor of the royal premiere today in Great Britain of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,’ Garden Maine is featuring two “royal” plants. Here is the second, taken at Otari-Wilton’s Bush. The first plant can be read here. The story of how this came about with Pamela can be read here.

The Crown fern
Pamela Rogers Photo

Pamela Rogers Photo

• By Pamela Rogers •

Blechnum is a genus of over 200 species, the majority of which are found in the southern hemisphere. There are 19 species native to New Zealand, of which 12 commonly grow on the forest floor or on banks and cliffs in forests.

Blechnum discolor (Blechnaceae) gets its name from the attractive crown of bright green radiating fronds. It has a number of names in Maori: piupiu, petipeti, taniwhaniwha, and turukio. It is widespread throughout the country in native bush. A conspicuous species, it often forms extensive colonies on drier forest floors that exclude other plants. It has short trunks crowned spreading fronds with blades 20-100 centimeters long and 5-16 centimeters wide. Its trunk can grow to 30 centimeters tall (12 inches); with a total height of 1 metre (3 feet).

Pamela Rogers Photo | Blechnum discolor - Crown fern

Pamela Rogers Photo | Blechnum discolor – Crown fern

It is also widely grown in home gardens, as is it fairly easy to grow. But it likes lots of water, prefers moist areas and shade, and is frost tender.

General information about the fern was sourced from: Nature Guide to the New Zealand Forest by John Dawson and Rob Lucas (Auckland, 2004) and New Zealand Pocket Gardening Encyclopaedia ed. Susan Page (Auckland, 2002). Other links are here and here.

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Photographs kindly provided by Pamela Rogers of the Kapiti Coast, in December 2012. For a bit more about Pamela, click to read here.

Pamela Rogers Photo | The Fernery at Otari-Wilton's Bush in Wellington, New Zealand

Pamela Rogers Photo | The Fernery at Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington, New Zealand

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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.