Rare red kumara flowering in Auckland
The very rare event of a kumara flowering has occurred in an Auckland garden.
David Singh’s garden in Freemans Bay has seen a flower appear from the vine of a red kumara - an event so rare a kumara farmer of 30 years has never seen it happen.
Singh said looking online he learned the red kumara very seldom flowers.
‘‘We are very surprised, it’s so rare I don’t think people hardly see it at all,’’ he said.
Managing director of Kaipara Kumara Anthony Blundell has worked with kumara for 30 years and confirmed it was highly rare for the red kumara to flower.
‘‘The red and gold [kumara], I don’t think in all my years I’ve ever seen them flower,’’ Blundell said.
‘‘One of our guys might have seen it once years and years ago.’’ However the orange kumara can regularly flower, he said.
Blundell said the red and gold kumara originated off whaling ships in the 1840s.
This was a larger variety of kumara to the smaller bush variant that the Maori grew, he said.
‘‘What happened in the 1840s when the European and American whaling ships came out they brought a sweet potato from South America.’’
Plant breeder at Plant and Food Research Steve Lewthwaite said kumara don’t flower often in New Zealand because they are a tropical vegetable.
However the kumara possibly flower when they are under stress, Lewthwaite said.
‘‘It’s usually this time of year when the day length is shortening and usually something is stressing the plant,’’ Lewthwaite said.
He said it was more common to see the kumara flower up north under the more regular drought conditions that can occur.
David Singh with the rare flower.