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New Zealand has a New Favourite Native Plant

3 December 2007

New Zealand has a New Favourite Native Plant

An on-line poll has found that New Zealand’s favourite native plant is not a familiar emblem such as silver fern and kowhai – but Willowherb.

The small white-flowered herb, found in riverbeds and gravelly coastal areas, snatched victory in the final day of an annual poll organised by the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, which has been tallying votes for the past eight weeks.

With a day to run it appeared that the poll would be won by the Chatham Island forget-me-not (Myosotidium hortensia) or New Zealand’s bamboo rush.

Last year the poll was topped by the Chatham Island Christmas tree.

Organised by the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN), the web-based poll covers plants of every kind, from the smallest ferns and grasses, to lowland trees and the mighty forest podocarps.

Network President Professor Ian Spellerberg says the whole top-ten has changed, with previous winners such as Pohutukawa and Cook's scurvy grass nowhere to be seen.

This year’s 10 most favourite plants include tawari, nikau palm, northern rata, kakabeak, coral broom, Poor Knights lily and the water brome.

Over 100 species were voted for out of a flora of 2360 species.

The organisers say they are not surprised that New Zealand’s iconic species failed to make the top ten. They say the poll illustrates that New Zealand’s love of native plants is far deeper than some of its national emblems.

Voters have also taken the opportunity to comment about the plant of their choice, and in many cases this reveals a deeper connection between the physical environment and national identity.

“There are a lot of people who have a real love of our native flora, and this is a chance for them to express what is important to them,” says Dr Spellerberg.

The results and comments may be found on the Network web site -

About the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network
The NZPCN web site attracts over 40,000 visits a month, providing evidence of New Zealanders’ continuing interest in native plant species. This year’s poll included prizes of $100 plant packs, supplied by the Department of Conservation, for people to gift to a local restoration project.


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