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Author Topic: Aciphylla aurea?  (Read 4796 times)

Stephenb

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Aciphylla aurea?
« on: January 15, 2007, 08:43:05 PM »
In 1992, I had a fantastic trip to New Zealand (work payed, so even better) and spent 10 days in perfect weather (!) driving from Christchurch over Arthur's Pass (with Rananculus lyallii in full flower) to the west coast, a memorable 5 hour hike up on Xmas day to a viewpoint over the Frans Josef Glacier (from almost subtropical palm habitat to high arctic in just a few hours), then the deep red Metrosideros forest in full flower with the deep blue Tasman Sea as a backdrop something I'll never forget. Anyway, on the return I stopped off in the Mount Cook National Park and fell in love with a Spaniard! I hasten to add that Spaniards is the name given collectively to Aciphylla spp. (or Speargrasses). In particular, the species shown in the following two shots (digitised from slides, so not the best quality). I noted at the time that it is  Aciphylla aurea (not sure how I identified it - perhaps it was information given at the visitor's centre). Anyway, I noticed in the NZ 2007 thread that we have some Aciphylla expertise on board, so I thought it was a good time to ask for a confirmation, or not...

I was even more impressed when I learnt in Andrew Crowe's book on the edible plants of NZ that Aciphyllas were the local carrots before the Europeans arrives and, with needle sharp leaves,  it was no mean task to harvest them - they used a rope and hauled the whole plant up....

By the way I have a 3 year old Aciphylla subflabellata (growing in a sand bed) here near Trondheim in Norway and now that I have discovered how to grow them I am planning to try several more, inspired by a couple of the world's northernmost gardeners. I visited Bjorn Thon's garden on Kvaloy or Whale Island(Norway) which lies west of the city of Tromso at nearly 70N and was astonished to find a couple of good sized Aciphyllas growing alongside a several year old Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria) and Opuntias with flower buds. Bjorn used to produce plants for the Tromso Arctic-Alpine Botanical Gardens. Another keen gardener Ivar Johnsen, also living on Kvaloy, seems now to have taken over and has sowed an impressive number of Aciphyllas over the last couple of years, so it will be interesting to follow developments... 

By the way, which Aciphyllas are likely to be most hardy? Does subflabellata grow at high levels?
Stephen
Malvik, Norway
Eating my way through the world's 15,000+ edible species
Age: Lower end of the 20-25,000 day range

David Lyttle

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Re: Aciphylla aurea?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2007, 08:21:15 AM »
Stephen,

Your Aciphylla is most likely to be Aciphylla scott-thomsonii rather than Aciphylla aurea. Aciphylla scott-thomsonii has blue-green foliage rather than the orange-green foliage of Aciphylla aurea. It is a larger plant and can grow up to 3m. In general it prefers wetter sites than Aciphylla aurea which is consistent with your photo showing it growing in scrub.
 
Aciphylla subflabellata does not extend into the alpine zone but is found in dry grassland habitats in the eastern South Island which tend to have low winter temperatures (-12 C). It is a medium sized plant characterised by its finely divided leaves which are much narrower than Aciphylla aurea. Lesly Cox has posted a picture of it in the current NZ alpine thread. It is not a particularly common plant and is perhaps one of the more desirable larger Aciphyllas.

There are a number of smaller alpine Aciphyllas, for example divisa, similis, crosby-smithii and congesta  that would make good garden subjects.
David Lyttle
Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, South Island ,
New Zealand.

t00lie

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Re: Aciphylla aurea?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2007, 09:14:53 AM »
Nice one David  ;D.I had just scripted a long reply to Stephen and went to post when your comments appeared. :'(
Yip i think it's A. scott -thomsonii as well.

Stephen --My experience here is that given a cool well drained but not arid spot in the garden they are fairly adaptable.

Even the small beauties such as A. dobsonii and A .simplex from the drier regions of Central Otago grow okay here outside uncovered in a sand /grit bed (to cope with our 1100mm pa rainfall).

These and the others David mentions above are simply terrific in troughs where because of their diminutive size their wonderful differing forms can be appreciated and they are less likely to be swamped by larger plants.
Some of them look great planted in rock crevices /against rock-- the combination of sharp edged/pointed foliage with rock edges i find most appealing.

Cheers Dave.   
 
« Last Edit: January 16, 2007, 06:56:29 PM by t00lie »
Dave Toole. Invercargill bottom of the South Island New Zealand. Zone 9 maritime climate 1100mm rainfall pa.

Lesley Cox

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Re: Aciphylla aurea?
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2007, 09:17:47 PM »
Here is another picture of A. scott-thomsonii. It seems there is a spine up Dave's nostril but if there were, you would hear the screams in Tromso!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2007, 09:20:11 PM by Lesley Cox »
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

Stephenb

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Re: Aciphylla aurea?
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2007, 10:15:49 PM »
Thanks all for the feedback. Nice to finally put a name to my plant.

Re-Lesley's picture, you certainly have some "nice"  ;) plants over there - I also saw your Ferocious Nettle (Urtica ferox) on the west coast - nasty piece of work...
Stephen
Malvik, Norway
Eating my way through the world's 15,000+ edible species
Age: Lower end of the 20-25,000 day range

 


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