January 29, 2020

Looking Fierce

Plants from Middle Earth

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

Anna Paton Photo | Pseudopanax ferox - Toothed lancewood

Anna Paton Photo | Pseudopanax ferox – Toothed lancewood

With juvenile leaves whose edges resembles a saw tooth, it’s no wonder that Pseudopanax ferox has the nickname of fierce lancewood. Also known as toothed lancewood, this endemic tree (see explanation below) can be found on the North Island but is more common on the South Island of New Zealand. Lancewood is a slow-growing tree, maturing in 10 to 15 years, and as it does so, the leaf form changes. When it is young, the leaves are a dark gray-brown to green color, quite narrow and stiff. On an older tree, the leaf widens, shortens and becomes dark green. Its preferred habitat sounds like it can handle some of the toughest spots to grow: “Coastal to subalpine … on consolidated sand dunes (dune forest), in grey scrub overlying pumice, on recent alluvial (coarse gravels), limestone outcrops, boulder fall, cliff faces, talus slopes and scarps.” Like the name, this is one fierce tree.

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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.