Island Flora

A Summary

  • Motutapu covers an area of 1510 hectares, the majority is in farmed pasture.
  • The original forest has gone but there are small post- eruption native forest remnants including puriri, karaka, taraire, mangeao, kohekohe, and flax.
  • Pohutukawa trees grow on the coastal fringe.
  • There are now approximately 75 hectares of volunteer replanted native forest.
  • The island is host to a number of unwanted plants including rhamnus (evergreen buckthorn), moth plant, woolly nightshade, apple of Sodom, pampas and smilex. These pests are being brought under control through the weed programme.
  • Some exotic trees, planted by the early European settler farmers, such as Norfolk Island pine, macrocarpa, pinus radiata and poplars can be seen in the landscape.

Native vegetation

Originally Motutapu would have been covered with coastal lowland forest similar to that growing on Waiheke and other Hauraki Gulf islands. The Rangitoto eruption, 600 years ago, understandably had a major impact on this forest. It eventually recovered on the now volcanic ash covered island. Since the arrival of Europeans in 1840 the mixed broadleaf/podocarp forest has been cleared to the point where today the island is mostly in pasture grasses (rye grasses, clover and kikuyu) with only small remnants of the post eruption forest dotted across the island and around the coastal strip.

The forest remnants include pohutukawa, tawapou, kohekohe, taraire, mahoe, puriri, kowhai, mangeao and karaka. The coastal strip is made up predominantly of pohutukawa some of which are quite old and very beautiful. Most of the native vegetation that is growing naturally occurs in the coastal fringe (cliffs, cliff tops and dune areas).

The island is undergoing a major transformation with volunteers from the community planting a native forest. In the past 16 years approximately 75 hectares have been planted with over 400,000 native saplings raised in the Trust's island nursery by volunteers. The Home Bay Forest is the largest area of native trees, many now over seven metres high with dozens of native seedlings regenerating naturally under the rapidly growing canopy. The majority of trees planted are establishment phase species including manuka, kanuka, coprosma, ake ake, cabbage trees, flax, houpara (five finger), ngaio, karo, and mahoe. Some canopy species like puriri, pohutukawa, rewarewa and kowhai have also been used in the early phases of planting.

Now that the first phase plants are covering the land, canopy species are being planted in the sheltered habitat which has been created. These include tawapou, taraire, tawa, nikau, kauri, kahikatea, kohekohe, karaka, mangeao, tanekaha and wharangi.

Native ferns such as shaking brake and mamaku (black tree ferns) are introducing themselves into the native plantings.

Exotic vegetation

Motutapu has not escaped the introduction of imported plants. There are a number of large exotic trees planted by the early European settler farmers.  Norfolk Island pines can be seen in Home, Station and Emu Bays, a large line of poplars line the northern arm of Central Gully and there are a number of shelter belts of macrocarpa, cryptomeria, gum trees and pine trees scattered across the island.

Surrounding the Reid Homestead and alongside the stream in Home Bay there is an interesting array of exotic trees including Moreton Bay and Port Jackson figs, Norfolk Island Hibiscus, walnuts, flame trees, and London planes.

The island is host to a large number of unwanted plants including rhamnus (evergreen buckthorn), moth plant, woolly nightshade, apple of Sodom, pampas and smilex. Some of these species - moth plant, rhamnus, apple of Sodom and woolly nightshade - pose a serious threat to the native plantings. There is a year round programme of weed control by volunteers and contractors to combat these plant pests.

Species which have been grounded as part of our volunteer planting activities:

Botanical name

Maori name

Common name

Carmichaelia aligera

 

NZ Broom

Olearia rani

 

Tree daisy

Dodonaea viscosa

akeake

 

Geniostoma ligustrifolium

hangehange

 

Phormium tenax

harakeke

flax

Elaeocarpus dentatus

hinau

 

Pseudopanax Lessonii

houpara

 

Dacrycarpus dacrydioides

kahikatea

whitepine

Kunzea ericoides

kanuka

 

Corynocarpus laevigatus

karaka

 

coprosma robusta

karamu

 

Pittosporum crassifolium

karo

 

Agathis australis

kauri

 

Macropiper excelsum

kawakawa

 

Dysoxylum spectabile

kohekohe

 

Hebe stricta

koromiko

 

Sophora Microphylla

kowhai

 

Melicytus ramiflorus

mahoe

whiteywood

Litsea calicaris

mangeao

 

Leptospermum scoparium

manuka

tea tree

Myrsine australis

mapou

 

Prumnopitys taxifolia

matai

 

Coprosma propinqua

mingimingi

 

Prumnopitys ferruginea

miro

 

Myoporum laetum

ngaio

 

Rhopalostylis sapida

nikau

 

metrosideros excelsa

pohutukawa

 

Hedycarya arborea

Porokaiwhiri

Pigeonwood

Solanum  aviculare

poroporo

 

Vitex lucens

puriri

 

Brachyglottis repanda

rangiora

 

Knightia excelsa

rewarewa

 

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

tanekaha

celery pine

Beilschmieda taraire

taraire

 

coprosma repens

taupata

 

Beilschmieda tawa

tawa

 

Planchonella novo-zealandica

tawapou

 

Cordyline australis

ti kouka

cabbage tree

Cortaderia splendens

toetoe

 

Podocarpus totara

totara

 

Melicope ternate

wharangi

 

Entelea arborescens

whau

 

Pseudopanax arboreus

whauwhaupaku

Five-finger

 

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