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Outsider soars to lead Top 10 plant list

Outsider soars to lead Top 10 plant list

A rank outsider has come from nowhere to top the vote for New Zealand's Top 10 native plants.

Hundreds of people voted in the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network's annual quest for the country's favourite native plant.

Number one was rautini, the rare Chatham Island Christmas tree. Voters described it as "a show stopper" and "a treasure for all New Zealanders", and praised it as a Christmas tree that didn't drop needles! Several voted for it to raise awareness of a little-known tree and to honour the Chatham Islands people.

Rautini is facing a number of threats to its future survival. In addition to the loss of habitat, these include dieback of parts of the plants, ultimately resulting in the plant's death. The cause is unknown. Research is needed to understand this issue and ensure rautini's long-term survival.

The Poor Knights lily and parapara came in second and third respectively, and were chosen for their spectacular looks, and because they grow well in tubs.

Number four, the Bamboo rush Sporadanthus ferrugineus, is host plant to "Fred the Thread", a previously unknown species of moth which was given the name Houdinia flexilissima by Landcare Research scientists this year.

Bartletts rata got the vote because it was "less boring" than its relative the pohutukawa, and Burr grass because it literally "just kinda grabs you", and "uglies deserve a chance at being popular".

Mistletoes bring up the rear. Adams mistletoe (number 9) is extinct - the first time an extinct plant has made it to the top 10.

Two of the plants on the Top 10 are listed as nationally endangered: the winner, rautini and Surville Cliffs kohuhu, and two as nationally critical (Bartletts rata and Northland horopito).

Landcare Research chairman Rob Fenwick is patron of the NZPCN and announced the result of the vote.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network secretary John Sawyer points out that iconic plants such as silver fern, cabbage tree, kowhai and kauri failed to make the top ten, as did last year's winner, Cook's scurvy grass, which was 13th.

"When you go to our website, you realise that there are about 2,400 plants to choose from - so why choose something obvious?

"Choosing 'new' plants raises their profile, and encourages gardeners and landscape designers to plant different things."

The Top 10:
1/ Rautini, Chatham Islands Christmas tree
2/ Poor Knights lily, Raupo-taranga
3/ Parapara
4/ Bamboo rush, Giant wire rush
5/ Bartletts rata
6/ Burr grass, Devil grass, Owie grass, Owee grass
7/ Surville Cliffs kohuhu
8/ Northland horopito
9/Adams mistletoe
10/ Scarlet mistletoe, korukoru, pirita, roeroe


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