In a true demonstration that cute and cuddly beats pesky and prickly, the Chatham Island forget-me-not (Myosotidium hortensia) has become New Zealand’s favourite plant for 2010. In a national poll by the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN) to find the country’s preferred plant, the potentially deadly tree nettle Ongaonga (Urtica ferox) dominated voting until the Chatham Island forget-me-not overtook its rival in the final fortnight.
The Chatham Island forget-me-not is an iconic megaherb, growing in patches up to 1m tall. It is endemic to the Chatham Island archipelago where it grows on wild coastal cliffs, rock outcrops, above the strand zone on beaches, and in 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 – the red admiral in particular – placed their votes in favour of the tree nettle that is a host plant for the butterfly. Others cited its home security value, saying that the killer plant was perfect for deterring burglars when planted below windows.
The Top 10 native plants for 2010 (To view the top 100 go to – www.nzpcn.org.nz):
Myosotidium hortensium (Chatham Island Forget-me-not, kopakopa, kopukapuka)
Urtica ferox (ongaonga, tree nettle)
Sporadanthus ferrugineus (bamboo Rush, giant wire rush)
Metrosideros bartlettii (rata moehau, Bartlett’s rata)
Rhabdothamnus solandri (New Zealand gloxinia, kaikaiatua)
Cordyline australis (cabbage tree, ti, ti Kouka, palm lily)
Muehlenbeckia astonii (shrubby tororaro, wiggywig, mingimingi)
Dacrydium cupressinum (rimu, red pine)
Metrosideros robusta (northern rata)
The more traditional New Zealand plant icons missed out again with the silver fern placing only 11th and the pohutukawa 23rd. Previous winners of the annual poll have included pohutukawa, Cook’s scurvy grass and pingao (the golden sand sedge) in 2009.