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Cook’s scurvy grass voted NZ’s No.1 plant for 2005

Media release – December 1, 2005

Cook’s scurvy grass voted NZ’s No.1 plant for 2005 – no sign of the silver fern

Cook’s scurvy grass is New Zealand’s No.1 plant for 2005 – despite the silver fern being the proudest NZ brand globally, according to a public vote released today.

New Zealanders have been voting for months on the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network website on what their favourite native plant is this year.

The Network and the Isaac Centre for Nature Conservation wanted to find out what people see as New Zealand’s most popular plant.

Interestingly, the silver fern only managed just five votes despite being such a high profile species among our NZ sporting teams.

``Should the All Blacks lose the silver fern from their rugby jerseys? Should our netball team become the Golden kowhais?’’ Network spokesman John Sawyer said today.

``Hundreds of people voted for over 190 native plants out of a possible 2350 natives.

``The last few months have seen the number of foreign / exotic plants in the wild in NZ for the first time exceed the number of native species.

``This is an ominous sign if we are to uphold our responsibilities under the Biodiversity Convention and protect our unique biodiversity.’’

The pohutukawa topped New Zealand’s national list in previous years with the kowhai, cabbage tree, kauri, nikau and rimu all making the top ten.

Voting has highlighted differences in people’s favourites around the country.

Region favourites are as follows:

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Auckland - Poor Knights lily
Wellington - cabbage tree
Taranaki - nikau
Tongariro - kowhai
Southland - kowhai
Christchurch - Climbing everlasting daisy (Helichrysum dimorphum)
Northland – nikau
Bay of Plenty - Poor Knights lily
Otago - Southern rata
Marlborough - Shrubby tororaro
Hawke’s Bay - pohutukawa
Waikato – William’s broom

International voters have gone for Cooks scurvy grass because of the published history about the species and how it was used by Captain Cook to feed to his crew to protect them from Scurvy.

Many voters did not realise that some of the most charismatic plants are so threatened. The Chatham island forget-me-not is nationally endangered in the wild despite being a popular choice in people’s gardens.

Sawyer said the project has helped raise the profile of New Zealand native plants. Knowing what were the country’s favourite native plants was also of interest to the tourism industry.

He said some people think lupin and macrocarpa were New Zealand natives while other people don’t realise there are eight species of kowhai.

NZ’s top 10 plants:

1. Lepidium oleraceum - nau Cooks scurvy grass

2. Sophora chathamica - Kowhai coastal kowhai

3. Xeronema callistemon f. bracteosa - Poor Knights Lily Raupo-Taranga

4. Metrosideros bartlettii - Bartletts rata

5. Rhopalostylis sapida - Nikau palm

6. Cordyline australis - Cabbage tree ti ti Kouka palm lily

7. Clianthus maximus - Kakabeak Kowhai Ngutu-kaka kaka beak

8. Carmichaelia williamsii - Williams Broom Giant-flowered broom

9. Myosotidium hortensia - Chatham Island forget-me-not kopakopa kopukapuka

10. Pisonia brunoniana - Parapara


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