Olearia | Coastal tree daisy flower bracts
It's easy to get swept away with the in-your-face drama of yellow kōwhai filled with feasting birds, but spring brings subtle pleasures too. This week, I've swapped out my birding lens for an "Art" lens and sought out the delicate, tiny, and hidden. From the remnants of tree daisy flowers to a hidden parrot tulip, there were many subjects to photograph.
A close-up of a coastal tree daisy flower remnant - less than 1cm across. I do love the furry leaves too - they help the plant hold water in rugged coastal settings.
Thanks to the iNaturalist (a website where you can upload observations and get identifications), I learned these were not flowers but the bracts left over from flowering coastal tree daisies (Olearia solandri). In the typical weird New Zealand way, these daisies are scrubby trees. They look more like a weed or something nondescript at first blush, but up close, they are beautiful!
Close-up of a karamū berry - about 0.5cm across.
While Linton was weighing the takahē at Zealandia (both Nio and Orbell are healthy weights, I'm glad to report), I searched the nearby bushes for more treasures and found this tiny lonesome karamū (Coprosma) berry. They usually come in clusters and are quickly wolfed down by hungry birds over winter, but somehow this one escaped attention.
Tutu is a gorgeous native plant, and this one had the most psychedelic stems. It's starting to come into flower, soon to be followed by gorgeous purple-black berries. Tutu is poisonous though, including the honeydew excreted from passion-vine hopper insects (yep I'm talking about bug poo). Honeybees collect the honeydew, which can then contaminate the honey - bad news for anyone inadvertently consuming it. Fortunately, beekeepers know to not harvest honey when the risk is highest.
Although not tiny in the slightest, I thought I'd include an iconic koru - the spiral-shaped frond of an unfurling mamaku tree fern. Another example of New Zealand plants doing an Alice-in-Wonderland thing of being much larger than their relatives elsewhere. These ferns are indeed the size of trees and the koru are around 20cm across.
Back home, I took a wander around the garden and found this stunning parrot tulip hiding under it's leaves. A wise flower, for it would have taken a beating from the late winter storm we just had with hail and sleet. These gorgeous flowers look like a painting - I'm glad one survived!
Have you noticed subtle but gorgeous signs of spring (or fall) where you are?