Plant­ing seeds for fu­ture

Katikati Advertiser - - Your Community Voice -

Plant­ing seeds is all about hope. Pro­vided they are wa­tered and the birds don’t scratch them up, tiny car­rot seeds will put up their first feath­ery leaf within aweek.

But the equally tiny dacty­lan­thus seeds we sowed in the Aon­gatete for­est may not poke their knobby buds out of the leaf lit­ter for eight years!

It is not that the seeds lie dor­mant all that time.

Their first tiny roots must reach and pen­e­trate the root of a host plant if they are to make any progress, for dacty­lan­thus is par­a­sitic. For all its life, it will rely on its host tree for food. Once a seedling be­comes at­tached to a host root the plant will grow un­der­ground, even­tu­ally form­ing a mound just be­neath the leaf lit­ter. Then, and only then, will it send its flow­ers up to the for­est floor.

It would be a lucky seed that chanced upon a suit­able host plant, which is why dacty­lan­thus plants pro­duce thou­sands of seeds from their crowded flow­ers. En­demic bats, New Zealand’s only na­tive mam­mals, are lured by their sweet nec­tar and crawl over the flow­ers, pol­li­nat­ing them.

Now the bats are scarce and it’s pos­sums that are lured to that sweet nec­tar.

They don’t pol­li­nate the flow­ers, they eat them. This is why dacty­lan­thus is so rare.

Now, sup­ported by tan­gata whenua from Nga¯i Tama Whar­iua and helped by DOC rangers, vol­un­teers have planted the seeds in the Aon­gatete for­est. We must keep up the possum con­trol to give the project a chance. If we suc­ceed, the dacty­lan­thus plants at Aon­gatete will be the first to be reestab­lished in the Kaimai for­est.


DOC Ranger Paul Cash­more and James Denyer plant­ing the dacty­lan­thus seeds.

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