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Nature's Corner, Late Autumn 2004:
Flowers, fruit, and ferns

Rata - the harbinger of winter

Arakura or scarlet rata (Metrosideros fulgens) commonly flowers from late summer to spring and might well be considered one of the early signs that winter is approaching. It is one of a number of rata vines which lives out its life as a vine, unlike the northern rata (Metrosideros robusta), which often begins as a vine and grows into a tree. The bright orange-red flowers of arakura are to be seen around the western fence line and splashes of colour are beginning to appear on the western slopes above the Lower Lake and on the Around the Lakes Track. Other rata vines such as Metrosideros perforata, Metrosideros diffusa and Metrosideros colensoi, all of which have white flowers, are also to be found in the Sanctuary.

Coming into flower 

Tree Fuchsia

The NZ Tree fuchsia (kotukutuku) (Fuchsia excorticata). The first flowers and new leaf buds are beginning to appear on the kotukutuku, one of only a few deciduous native trees.

Look for the trees with the distinctive flaking reddish-brown bark on their trunks along the Swamp and Te Mahanga Tracks and the Lake Road in the vicinity of the Beech Track. 

What's flowering?

Koromiko (Hebe stricta). Look for the last flowers of the season - pale lilac spikes on the small bushes along the Lake Road and on the Valley View Track.

Maire tawake (Syzygium maire) creamy-white pohutukawa-type flowers on the trees on the western side of the Lake Road between the Te Mahanga and Swamp Tracks.

Panakenake (Pratia angulata). Starry-white asymmetrical flowers on the groundcover in the garden plots in the lower valley (also see What's Fruiting below).

Hangehange (Geniostoma rupestre). Throughout the valley - clusters of pale green flower buds are beginning to form on the stems.


What's fruiting?

Pate (Schelfflera digitata).
Hanging fingers with clusters of small pale green berries ripening to wine-red. Best specimens on the lakeside of the Lake Road opposite the listening posts.

Hangehange (Geniostoma rupestre).
Throughout the valley - green pods ripening to black and splitting open to release black seeds.



Karamu (Coprosma robusta).
Throughout the valley - look for clusters of bright orange berries - the saddleback have been seen feasting on them!
Panakenake (Pratia angulata). Wine-red berries amongst the white flowers on the groundcover in some of the planted areas beside the Lake Road. Panakenake  flowers and fruits at the same time.

Mapau (Myrsine australis). Along the lake road, tiny green berries along the stem ripening to red-black.


Kohia / Native Passion Vine, (Passiflora tetrandra). Look for masses of bright-orange grape-sized berries as you arrive or leave the valley - the best specimen is growing on the shrubs across the drain at the bottom of the drive-way up to the Visitor Centre.



Ngaio (Myoporumlaetum). Purple-red berries on the small trees up the Lake Road and by the weka fence.


Manamana or hen and chickens fern (Asplenium bulbiferum). Small plantlets called bulbils (chickens) are appearing on some leaf fronds - plants can be seen throughout the valley, but especially along the Te Mahanga and Swamp Tracks.

Nature's Corner is written by Sanctuary volunteers Pam Fuller and Allison Buchan.
© All photographs, except where indicated, Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.
Clicking on photos with blue borders will take you to a larger photo.

Published May 25, 2004

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