Keystone Species of New Zealand
1) Nothofagus menziesii (Silver Beech, Tāwhai)
- Natural range: endemic to New Zealand. Found throughout South Island.
- Trunk is silvery-gray and has horizontal lines (lenticels).
- Dark-green, oval leaves are glossy and have toothed edges.
- Largest specimen was transplanted in Autumn 2012 with help from a very large crane.
2) Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides (Mountain Beech, Tawhairauriki)
- Deep green, oval leaves have a pointed tip and rolled edges.
- Grows in lowland mountain regions to about 65 feet. At high altitudes, it forms a “goblin forest” where the trees are no more than 6 feet tall.
- Two large specimens transplanted with crane in Autumn 2012.
3) Griselinia littoralis (New Zealand Broadleaf, Kapuka)
- Found throughout most of New Zealand from sea level to 3000 feet.
- Deep green, oval leaves are thick and very shiny, and this fast-growing plant is often used for hedging and shelter planting.
- Species name ‘littoralis’ means “growing by the sea”, indicating tolerance of salt spray.
4) Chionochloa rigida (Narrow-leaved Snow Tussock), C. rubra (Red Tussock)
- Genus of Chionochloa, comprises of about 20 species – all but one are native to New Zealand.
- Despite its name, C. rigida has a flowing habit reaching 3 feet with flowering stems reaching 5 feet. Leaves dry out giving the plant an overall golden color.
- C. rubra has reddish colorings with fine weeping leaves reaching 3 to 4 feet and flowering stems that rise just above the foliage.
5) Phormium colensoi (syn. P. cookianum) and P. tenax (New Zealand Flax, Wharariki)
- Both species native to New Zealand, P. colensoi is endemic; both are widespread.
- P. colensoi seed pods tilt downwards and twist in a spiral as they dry. P. tenax seeds are held upright and do not twist when drying.
- P. tenax is a larger plant with leaves reaching 9 feet and flowering stalk up to 15 feet compared to P. colensoi whose leaves reach 5 feet and flowering stalk is slightly taller at 6 feet.