Journal Number 93
November 2005


Gastrodia "Owhango" & Waireia stenopetala
By Eric Scanlen

Gastrodia "Owhango"

Gary Penniall's Gastrodia "long column" setting no seed at Urenui [J92:29] set the Column's sluggish grey-matter in motion re the Owhango taxon [J67:21; 91:18] which also set no seed, in Feb 1998.

Close comparison between colour slides of Gary's and the Column's from Owhango and the South Island [J91:17-23] showed the external flower characters, at the same stage of growth, to be practically identical throughout. In particular, tepal venation layout, with notable forking at the vein tips, was the same from Invercargill to Urenui.

Labellum and column tips look the same and olive green, golden knobbed perianths are common to all non sun burnt flowers. Jan/Feb flowering time is the norm as is the elusive perfume from only newly opened, pendant flowers. Owhango plants have only inner detail and early perfume to be checked.

No seed set, in either exposed (Invercargill) or semi shaded plants (Urenui & Owhango) was a common factor so the Column could no longer see any reason to exclude the Owhango plants from Gastrodia "long column" s.s. It is possible that seed set only requires cold conditions hence deep shade in the south and unusually cool weather plus deep shade in the north.

Dot Cooper's Gastrodia "long column black" [J91:18,19] still has a tenuous hold on separateness but that over-mature black from Cape Farewell, [J91:18] growing in a colony of G. "long column" s.s. does make one think. Perhaps this is another unpollinated phase of the multi-facetted G. "long column"?

Weekly observations with temperature readings, by Boronia smellers, of one or more colonies,
from bud to dehiscence are really needed to be quite sure. Any volunteers?

Distribution north of Urenui is also a question mark for this southern denizen. Just who recorded it where, in ER 10, Coromandel and ER 3, Te Paki [Field Guide] is now unclear. Any readers familiar with G. "long column" in these areas, please contact the Editor with any recent finds and some basic details of the plant's characters. Their similarity with the earlier flowering G. aff. sesamoides, also long columned, has been an identification confusion ever since Donald Petrie's 1893 error at Otira [J91:18].

At least Petrie published his thoughts and got these two taxa under discussion even though both still remain botanically unclassified 111 years later.

Waireia stenopetala

Waireia stenopetalaJan Kelly of Wanaka emailed details and husband Errol's excellent photo of yellowish green, slightly over-mature, Waireia stenopetala from Flagstaff Hill Dunedin.

Jan's Mum, Jean Merrilees, along-time member of the Otago Alpine Garden Group, was showing them the Flagstaff attractions at Christmas 1984.

Where have all the redibrown stripes gone from the dorsal sepals? All us Jaffas and other North Islanders please note that, according to the Editor, "W. stenopetala tends to vary continuously from green to heavily mottled - the last get photographed because they are more attractive."

He's right; all of those that the Column can find in publications have mottled reddish brown stripes so feast your eyes on Fig X to see what many of them really look alike.

They were growing on the SE side of the Pineapple track.

Also in the vicinity was a lovely, rich flower field of, Bulbinella angustifolia, Celmisia lyallii,
C. gracilenta, Helichrysum bellidiodes, Brachyglottis sp., Thelymitra pulchella and Aporostylis bifolia.

Note the floral bracts on the Editor's pic of W. stenopetala in the Nature Guide and J83:28, from the same Flagstaff hill, and those on the Enderby Isle plants (J60:20) also Bald Hill in Southland (J91:15). They are all long on the bottom flower, shortening towards the top of the spike whereas the possibly different taxon on Campbell Isle (J83:28) had short top and bottom floral bracts Who is going to Campbell Isle to check it out?




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