Amorphophallus titanum flowers in Auckland
An Amorphophallus titanum other wise known as the “corpse flower” has flowered for the first time ever in New Zealand, in the Auckland Winter garden. The giant flower smells like rotting flesh to attract insects for pollination. The Amorphophallus titanum has been growing in the Auckland Winter Garden for about seven years. It originates in the rainforests of Sumartra, where it’s inflorescence can reach over three metres in height. Also known as the titan arum because it has the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. After the flower dies back, a single leaf will normally grow from the underground corm, that can reach the size of a small tree. The plant attracted a substantial number of visitors on a sunny Sunday afternoon, that made a queue that took about a half hours shuffle to see the flower.
Poisonous Castor Oil plant
The Castor Oil plant ( Ricinus communis ) can potentially kill an adult human after consuming just four to eight seeds. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the seed have the highest concentration of poison. It contains some of the strongest toxins in the plant kingdom: the alkaloid ricinin as well as the toxalbumin ricin. These are more toxic than cyanide. It causes a painful death. Symptoms typically occur between 2-4 hours but can be delayed up to 36 hours. Symptoms include a burning sensation in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, headache, cold sweat, fever, disorientation, sleepiness, hypotension, tachycardia ( abnormally fast resting heart rate ), shortage of breath and seizures, followed by collapse and death. This is the plant that castor oil is made from. The toxins can be extracted through a complicated process, making commercially cold pressed castor oil safe to humans in normal doses, both internally and externally.
The castor oil plant is a fast growing perennial shrub that can reach around 12 metres tall. With glossy large palm-shaped leaves with 7-9 coarsely toothed segments, cluster-like blossoms and prickly fruits, that contain large oval, shiny, bean like poisonous seeds.
If you’ve got this plant in your garden I recommend removing it, by wearing rubber gloves, and chopping it down and digging out the roots, because as well as being poisonous it spreads to become a weed.
Poisonous Death Cap Mushrooms
Don’t eat mushrooms with white gills on the underside of the cap! It could be Amanita phalloides ” Death Cap mushroom.” I’ve been seeing them in gardens beds and on lawns recently in suburban Auckland gardens. It’s responsible for the majority of fatal mushroom poisonings worldwide. Eating just half of the cap is enough to kill a person. It’s best to not even touch this mushroom. The reason people eat it is because it looks alot like the edible field mushroom, which initially has pink gills that turn brown then dark brown as it ages. So if you’re not sure if it’s safe, then it’s not safe to eat wild mushrooms. If you’ve got children it’s a good idea to warn them not to touch wild mushrooms, because they are attractive to curious children, when they see a white cap popping up in the lawn or garden.
Gardening NZ, Gardening In New Zealand.
Gardening NZ.Com is here to provide New Zealand gardeners, with useful information on gardening in New Zealand related subjects.
Interestingly gardening is the the second most popular physical activity in New Zealand, according to Active NZ Survey in the 2007-8 year. It’s second to walking. The top ten physical activities in order are: Walking, gardening, swimming, equipment based exercise, cycling, fishing, jogging/running, dance, golf and tramping.
The plan for this Gardening NZ website is to create a useful guide to help a range of gardeners, from beginners through to gardeners interested in more specialised subjects. This will provide visitors with a useful and comprehensive resource to help create a greener and higher quality environment for humans and our native flora and fauna to enjoy. While being aware that introduced plant species, that in many cases have useful qualities such as pleasant flowers, or are hardy and quick growing, may have a propensity to become rampant invasive weeds, if allowed to escape the confines of cultivated gardens.
New Zealand’s growing conditions.
New Zealand’s climate and topography create a wide range of conditions, allowing a broad range of plants to be grown here. Our climate is considered to be sub-tropical in the far north, ranging to the far south, where it is considered to be cool temperate, with severe alpine conditions in the mountains. The mountain ranges that extend the length of New Zealand, create a barrier for the prevailing westerly winds, that divides the country into distinctly different climatic regions.
The rainfall ranges between 600 and 1600mm per year, with a considerable difference occurring between the West and East Coast of the South Island, where the annual rainfall on the west coast is between 4 to 10 metres, while in Canterbury there is between 0.5 to 0.75 metres per year. The two ares are only about 100km apart!
The soil in New Zealand also varies over a wide range of types including, clay, the finest particle size through silt loam, that have a predominantly medium size soils particles, to coarser particle sized sandy coastal and alluvial soils. There’s also the volcanic soils with large particle size, and peat based soils with a high organic content that tend to be acidic.
All these variants allow a wide range of plants and gardening specialties to be cultivated by New Zealand horticulturalists. Combined with the high educational standards, that our universities, polytechnics, and libraries provide, we have all the ingredients for some of the best gardens in the world.
This website is currently a work in progress, so I hope you will return to see it develop over time. If you want to, make a contribution, then contact us.