Kirk’s kōhūhū (Pittosporum kirkii) and Kohurangi (Brachyglottis kirkii var. kirkii)
Two threatened specialised shrub epiphytes are represented in the park, Kirk’s kōhūhū (Pittosporum kirkii) and Kohurangi (Brachyglottis kirkii var. kirkii). Both species are found in the lowland and montane forests of Mt Taranaki, Pouākai and Kaitake Ranges, however Pittosporum kirkii is rare on the Kaitake Range.
Kirk’s kōhūhū has narrow leathery thick leaves that are widest towards the tip. Its flowers are yellow and sometimes tinged with red and in a cluster at the end of twigs. Its capsules are 2.5 – 4 cm long, splitting into two revealing the shiny black seeds in a yellow pith. The plant is dioecious which means there are separate male and female plants, and this may constrain survival if populations have unbalanced sex ratios.
Kohurangi is a fleshy leaved daisy that is most noticeable when it produces large white daisy-like flowers in spring. These flowers hang down like beautiful chandelier from its perch on tall host trees such as rimu, rata, miro and kamahi. Windborne seeds develop in late spring and disperse from dandelion-like structures.
Did you know
Pests have been the main cause of these two species declining across the country? Early botanical records suggest that both species were more common, growing on the ground and in the trees before pests such as goats and possums became firmly established. As a result of their vulnerability to browsing, Kirk’s kōhūhū and kohurangi are useful indicators of ecosystem health.