The discovery of two extremely rare and endangered, native kakabeak plants (Clianthus maximus) by contractors working in Willow Flat forest is considered an extremely significant one by botanists and local DOC workers in the Hawke’s Bay.
It is estimated there are only around 120 known plants remaining in the wild.
Andy Fleming, Harvest Planning Manager at Rayonier Matariki Forests, says the find by the company’s contractors was particularly surprising as the plants had been in an area where the crew had been working for some months.
“The kakabeak is often mistaken for a Kowhai when not in bloom, so our guys had passed by the plants several times without taking any particular notice of them. It wasn’t until their yearly bloom produced the distinctive bright red flowers that we realised they were unmistakeably kakabeak,” says Fleming.
The plants have been fenced off to prevent damage from pests and seeds have been collected from the plants and used for propagation in a native tree nursery.
This discovery will not only boost the plant population but also provide further genetic material to reintroduce into the wild.
The HBRC Landcare Scheme provided funds for the project and Rayonier Matariki Forests continues to work with Plant Hawkes Bay, DoC and the Forest Life Force Restoration Trust to protect this critically endangered species.
The accidental discovery of a critically endangered native plant and its ongoing protection will contribute significantly to boosting numbers.