Moved to New Zealand to Teach Myself Botany

Hi all, I recently arrived in New Zealand and plan to be here for a year. I’ve come here to learn about its unique flora and teach myself more about botany.

Doing something stupid like this means I don’t know anyone and there is a steep learning curve in IDing plants, finding spots to botanize, developing an understanding of the geological record, ecology, and general biogeography of the country.

I’m moving from the north to the south at this point.

If you live in New Zealand and are interested in going for a walk some time to share some wisdom, let’s meet up. Or, if there are any species or any spots I have to see, or anyone you know that I should get in touch with, let me know. Thanks!

Best,
Coe

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Two New Zealand based posts running in the forum now
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/vegetation-management-for-fire-safety-during-restoration-of-forest-margin/9190/25
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/drought-driving-kiwi-to-forage-by-day-and-around-houses-and-roads/9300/4

(bookkeeping note: moved this to Nature Talk category, since not directly related to iNat function or features.)

One resource of which I am aware is:
http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/

A recent flag discussion concerning the NZ native Centella uniflora and the globally distributed Centella asiatica (Gotu kola) led to a deviation for Centella uniflora. Because the computer vision does not know about range, the computer vision often suggests Centella uniflora for Centella asiatica outside of New Zealand (for example in Europe, North America).

C. asiatica in New Zealand is at present in iNaturalist as only a single observation, and may be quite limited in range there: “Found 5 December 2006 in Auckland, Mt Albert, as a lawn verge and gutter weed. Eradication attempted.” - http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=4339

Observations of Centella may help determine whether C. asiatica is present and if present, whether the plant is spreading.

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I have been keeping my eye on a patch of C. uniflora on a streambank, not doing so well since the present low rainfall/drought began a year ago. What should i look for in Centella to differentiate uniflora from asiatica, which i am not aware of having ever seen?

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If you are in Auckland send me a PM for some ideas. There’s also the kauri forests in Northland (closed to the public in Auckland due to a syndrome which is killing them and believed to be due to trampling of roots and a microorganism, and contagious through soil/water/plant material)

If you are going to the South Island you might do well to message dave_holland. I don’t think he’s on the Forum but is active in iNat.nz

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In fact, any area in NZ that you visit, look to see who the top observers in that area are, and direct message them. Be clear on your intent though, unsolicited contact from strangers can be looked at suspiciously! Most are quite approachable, and can give good pointers on places to visit and resources to seek. Many good books on local flora at local libraries, for instance. But most of all, just bang out lots of observations and ask lots of questions! Don’t be afraid to put up “Plantae” as your initial ID (or whatever low level taxa is appropriate).

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With all due regret, I actually do not know the key differentiating characteristics. I only know that Centella uniflora is native, perhaps endemic, to New Zealand, and is not known to be found outside of New Zealand (as far as I know at present). Thus when an observation appears in central Asia, Europe, the Americas identified by the computer vision as C. uniflora, and the observation looks like Centella asiatica, then I know to re-identify the plant as Centella asiatica. Here on Pohnpei C. asiatica grows essentially as a weed in lawns, I feel I am rather familiar with C. asiatica. As Coe is moving from north to south for a year, my thought was perhaps images captured of Centella along the way might help sort these two out.

ok thanks. He/she is not likely to see it often or easily, unfortunately:) I will take extra care with any future obs of the only local occurrence I a, likely to visit.

btw years ago I cultivated C. uniflora collected wild (with a permit) from local streamside, and in pots with good nutrition (no artificial fertilizers or sprays) it formed pretty tight masses with enough of the wee flowers to attract home gardeners. It wasn’t my most popular garden plant, but I managed to get a few out into the neighbourhood - where they probably died as they like plenty of water and are not effectively competitive with many exotic ground covers like violets, buttercups etc.

Here are my three recent obs of a single wild occurrence on a streambank. Let me know if any are misidentified!

And to the OP - here’s what you are looking out for :EDIT i failed to paste the link - trying again:
https://inaturalist.nz/observations?place_id=94916&subview=grid&taxon_id=400613&user_id=kaipatiki_naturewatch

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This may be the ultimate “you know you are seriously into inat when…” post :D

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Wow! Thank you to all of you who have replied and gotten in touch with me! Looking forward to meeting those of you who have reached out and any of those who do so in the future!

Best,
Coe

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Having now spoken with the OP and seen an image by email, may I give him a local “reference” :)

You must have an uncanny eye for the worthy of note Coe, having spotted that Nothofagus truncata - it seems that, when you are in a position to upload it to iNat, it will be the second obs for Auckland and the first for the North Shore - and the presence of the occurrence in that Reserve was noted as one of two tree species of particular interest in an Auckland Botanical Society walk in 1991.

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