Double Twist

Within plant groups in New Zealand, even in same families, plants can have a completely different look. A good example is comparing Sophora prostrata – a divaricate, Sophora molloyi – a shrub, and Sophora microphylla – a tree. These species are all from the same family but with differing growth habits. Once again, this highlights unique characteristics of New Zealand native plants and divarification within a species.

Tap then swipe on each image

  • <p><strong>Sophora prostrata</strong></p><p>Can you spot the juvenile Sophora prostrata? In contrast to Pittosporum obcordatum with its attractive columnar form and small flowers, Sophora are seasonally high flowering and often considered New Zealand’s national flower. (Swipe slowly)</p>
  • <p>Some divaricates don’t have big showy flowers. While they do have other eco-system values, like providing a natural habitat for butterflies and geckos, you may not find so many birds. You will often see Kereru and Tui feasting on kowhai during spring and kereru love to strip off the new shoots in late winter months.</p><p>Observe the interesting form of S. prostrata. This plant will divaricate throughout its life. (Swipe slowly)</p>
  • <p><strong>Sophora microphylla</strong></p><p>Sophora microphylla, on the other hand, has a distinct juvenile phase and is not divaricate in mature form. It has weeping branches up to 25 metres tall, however, it can be distinguished from other kowhai species as the juvenile form starts out as divaricating. Can you identify the unique characteristics of S.molloyi further along this trail?</p>
  • <p><strong>Muehlenbeckia astonii</strong></p><p>Reaching the end of the pavers, you will see curiously toparied forms of Muehlenbeckia astonii.</p><p>M.astonii adapts to its environment and, as you can see, we have adapted it to our environment here by showcasing it cut into different shapes.</p><p>You will notice, in contrast to the woolly mass of hedgerows along Pacific Pathway, the clean, crisp walls of M.astonii fashioning a more formal, albeit fun quality.</p>
  • <p><strong>Muehlenbeckia astonii</strong></p><p>Ascend the wooden stairs to the platform and looking out over the garden, take in the array of interesting native plantings. The sculptural forms encasing this platform highlight the zigzag arrangement of M. astonii and how it lends itself to being clipped and shaped.</p>
  • <p><strong>Muehlenbeckia astonii</strong></p><p>The twisted habit of this plant and tactile textures and colour creates a striking effect, no matter what the season – something to consider when planning your own garden.</p><p>The different shapes and effects created by either clipped or untrained plantings of M. astonii are an absolute bonus to any Auckland garden. If you would like more information, please tap <a href="https://www.aucklandbotanicgardens.co.nz/plants-for-auckland/plants/muehlenbeckia-astonii/"><strong><em>on the link</em></strong></a></p>

Observing unique characteristics within species

Sophora/ common name kowhai