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Behold the Kakabeak | Garden Maine

August 6, 2020

Behold the Kakabeak

Roger Sampson Photo | Clianthus puniceus - Kaka beak flower

Roger Sampson Photo | Clianthus puniceus – Kakabeak flower

On a lone island in a New Zealand harbor there grew a legume. This evergreen shrub, Clianthus puniceus, is a rare plant, commonly known as kakabeak. That name stems from its arresting clusters of red flowers which resemble the beak of the kākā, a New Zealand parrot. The species is critically endangered in the wild, although cultivated populations exist in gardens around the world. Kakabeak can top 6 feet in height, sporting pinnate leaves and a growth habit that is classified as scandent, meaning it can be trained to climb like a vine, not surprising since it is in the pea family. It has yet another common name: lobster claw. Too bad it is only cold hardy to Zone 8, quite beyond perennial status for Maine.

This flower was photographed by Roger Sampson in New Zealand. Roger is a New Zealand photographer who describes his work as a hobby. “Nature is the star,” he says, “and I just expose nature.” You can find him on Facebook and YouTube.

To hear a report on this plant, check out this video.