Killer Plant in Tussle With Chatham Icon in National Contest

The Chatham Island forget-me-not has won the national poll to find New Zealand’s favourite plant for 2010.  In a vote that appeared to be dominated by the potentially deadly tree nettle (Urtica ferox) the Chatham Island forget-me-not overtook its nearest rival in the final fortnight and never wavered.

The Chatham Island forget-me-not is an iconic megaherb, forming patches up to 1m tall and up to 1.5m diameter. It is endemic to the Chatham Island archipelago where it grows on wild coastal cliffs, rock outcrops, sandy and rocky beaches just above the strand zone and coastal forest openings. With its large blue-flowered inflorescences, it is revered by gardeners nationwide but is threatened with extinction in the wild.

Supporters of butterfly conservation placed their votes in favour of the tree nettle that is a host plant for the red admiral butterfly. Others suggested that the killer plant was perfect for deterring burglars when planted below windows.

More than 125 plant species were voted for via the website of the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network – a national on-line repository of information about plants. The more traditional New Zealand plant icons missed out again with the silver fern placing 11th and pohutukawa 23rd.

Previous winners of the annual poll have included pohutukawa, Cook’s scurvy grass and pingao (the golden sand sedge) in 2009.

The Top 10 native plants for 2010
(view the top 100)

1.    Myosotidium hortensium (Chatham Island Forget-me-not, kopakopa, kopukapuka)   
2.    Urtica ferox (ongaonga, tree nettle)
3.    Sporadanthus ferrugineus (bamboo Rush, giant wire rush)   
4.    Metrosideros bartlettii (rata moehau, Bartlett's rata)     
5.    Rhabdothamnus solandri (New Zealand gloxinia, kaikaiatua)     
6.    Clianthus maximus (kakabeak, Kowhai Ngutu-Kaka)
7.    Cordyline australis (cabbage tree, ti, ti Kouka, palm lily)     
8.     Muehlenbeckia astonii (shrubby tororaro, wiggywig, mingimingi)
9.    Dacrydium cupressinum (rimu, red pine)
10.   Metrosideros robusta (northern rata)

For more information and photographs of these plants :
Contact: John Sawyer (NZPCN Secretary), M: 0210 583 894