Pachystegia insignis And Other NZ Plants At UCSC

We took hundreds of photos at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum when we visited in October.  In this post are a few interesting plants we saw in the Arboretum's New Zealand section.

Pachystegia insignis, common name Marlborough Rock Daisy, is a subshrub from rocky areas of coastal New Zealand.  New leaves are coated with a white fuzz that gradually sheds, leaving a thick, pale green leaf with a white midrib.  The flower is a large white daisy that appears in late spring.  Quite a nice looking plant.  In its native range in the Marlborough district, it will grow on cliffs near the ocean.  Marlborough is at the northeastern tip of New Zealand's southern island.  
Dried flower:
 A young plant.  This photo shows the different stages of the foliage.  The new leaves emerge covered in white fuzz (1) which gradually falls off (2, 3), leaving the leaf a thick, slightly glossy green-grey. One of three species in the genus, P. insignis can get 0.9 m tall and wide (3' x 3').
 A seed head:
 Next spring's flower forming? 
 An unexpected sight in the NZ section were Cordyline australis so mature and large the trunks had developed a beautiful textured bark.  Cordyline has become popular in Southern California the last few years, usually seen as a hip- or shoulder-high stack of narrow leaves.  To see it in maturity sporting bark was a surprise.  
 Beautiful texture on the trunk. 
Podocarpus (now Afrocarpus) gracilior is familiar to Southern Californians.  The Genus is widely distributed over Africa, Asia, Australia, Central and South America.  Podocarpus totara, a tree that can reach 100 feet in height in its native New Zealand, is in drier California much smaller.   The base of this one seems almost juniper or cypress-like.
A shot of the entire tree:
 Another interesting genus in the New Zealand section was Phyllocladus.  The arboretum had several species of this conifer.  The "foliage" resembles something like a complex leaf form of a Ginko, but these are not leaves; they are phylloclades.  A phylloclade is a flattened shoot or branch that has evolved to photosynthesize. 
 The tree:
 Shrubs rather than trees,  Hebes are beautiful in both foliage and flower.  Approximately ninety species of Hebes are native to New Zealand.
 The foliage of this Hebe reminds me of a very different genus of plants--"stacked" Crassula such as C. capitella
 I do not think of New Zealand when I think of palms, but there is a native NZ palm, Rhopalostylis sapida.
 We recently saw a very funny and charming New Zealand movie called "Hunt For The Wilderpeople";  the bonus of the movie was seeing lush New Zealand forest through much of the film, which brought back to mind our Arboretum visit, and the little tract of New Zealand flora growing (and mostly thriving) in California.   
We here in California are so fortunate to be able to grow fascinating plants from around the world. 


  1. I'm so glad you spent time in the New Zealand section. I must admit, I've only visited it once. Most of the time I forget it's there because it's over to one side--and I get so excited by the plants in the South Africa section next to it.

    1. We had the luxury to spend a lot of time there. It's very different, more rainforest-like, than the rest of the Arboretum.

  2. Loved this introduction to some familiar and not-so-familiar plants from NZ. And thanks for including photos of pachystegia in all is leaf phases. I didn't know it moved on from the silver phase...

  3. Another of the (many) places I hope to someday visit. Oh and New Zealand too!

    1. I hope you get there so I can enjoy your blog posts of the trip(s). :)

  4. Wilderpeople was a charming film. NZ has gotten a lot of movie exposure lately. I wonder if they are overrun with tourists as a result.

    1. 18 hour plane ride...probably not too overrun.

  5. I DO "need" to visit the UCSC Arboretum. As something of a flower fanatic/floozy, I love that Pachystegia - any plant that produces a dried flower that perfect is definitely worth cultivating. It made me think of a mini-sunflower.

    1. Hope you can visit there soon! The NZ area was wonderful, but remember that's not all--the Proteas! The Banksias! The Grevilleas!


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