This photograph shows the New Zealand Gloxinia TAUREPO, Rhabdothamnus solandri growing on Mt Taylor.
Taurepo had become fairly rare on Kawau mainly because of animal pest browsing and because although the flowers are bisexual they are unable to fertilise themselves. The anther ripens first and moves to the front of the flower trumpet where birds feeding on the nectar become dusted with the pollen which is then taken to another flower. The depletion of birds therefore compromised pollination in addition to the destruction of plants by animal browsing.
With animal pest control, seedlings are now appearing at stream margins as seeds are transported down the watercourses.
Taurepo is the only known example of its genus in the world.
Interestingly, the flowers contain a glucoside plant dye which changes colour according to the cell sap pH. It is violet when neutral, red when acid, and blue when alkaline, similar to the plant dye Litmus obtained from certain lichens.
John Buchanan F.L.S presented a paper "On the botany of Kawau Island", on 2nd September 1876, and the Trust has used this as a starting point for compiling an inventory of flora on the Island for use in rehabilitation.
Members have discovered quite a lot, but our main technical input has been from the Auckland Botanical Society who on a recent visit discovered one Mangeao, Litsea calicaris, growing on Mt Taylor. Buchanan reported only one in 1876, so if there is more than one there are not many! Mangeao is dioecious so unless another tree is found the Trust will have to grow some from cuttings. We will be watching this tree carefully to see if any fruit is set.
The Trust's objective is to progressively compile an inventory of plants in the following categories:
1. Serious weed species.
2. Native plants which will provide the resource for natural (assisted) regeneration and eco-sourced propagation.
3. Plants which are rare or endangered on Kawau (due to limited numbers) even though they may be more common in other locations.
4. Plants which exist on Kawau and are rare or endangered at least in the Auckland Region and possibly in New Zealand.
The Trust invites contributions to the inventory.