Learn about native plants found in the Canterbury plains.

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Native plants natural to the Canterbury plains (PDF, 689K)

Grown from seed collected from the Canterbury Plains Ecological District.

The history of the native vegetation of the Canterbury Plains is one of succession, destruction and regeneration. For many millions of years prior to European settlement the patterns of native vegetation were defined by the shifting rivers and creeks, floods, shingle build-up, alluvial deposits, soil damage and fire from both natural and human ignitions.

The plant life varied from:

Prostrate herbs and grasses on the gravels.

Tussocks and small shrubs on younger terraces.

Woodland vegetation of kanuka, cabbage tree, olearia and kowhai on higher, older terraces.

Dense woodlands of broad-leaf hardwoods such as karamu, lancewood, Hoheria angustifolia, Lophomyrtus obcordata, etc., on deeper soils.

Podocarps on the fingers of deep, moist soils.

Today’s landscape has suffered over 150 years of intensive use and manipulation, not only for economic reasons but also to transform it into one that is English in character. This has been achieved by the introduction of exotic trees, shrubs and grasses, and grazing, drainage and cultivation of the land.

Planting species represented in these gardens will eventually provide a link between the native remnants of the Canterbury Plains, (kanuka forests of Eyrewell and Bankside Reserves), the foothills (beech forest of the Oxford-Ashley area) and the tall podocarp/hardwood forests of Riccarton Bush in Christchurch and Port Hills Reserves.

Canterbury plains

Species name and common name

T = threatened
R = rare

  1. Aciphylla subflabellata kuri kuri, spear grass
  2. Anemanthele lessoniana (R) hunangämoho, wind grass, bamboo grass
  3. Austroderia richardii toetoe
  4. Brachyscome pinnata (T)
  5. Carex buchananii matirewa, cutty grass
  6. Carex comans tussock grass
  7. Carex flagellifera mänia, tussock grass
  8. Carmichaelia grandiflora
  9. Carmichaelia kirkii (T)
  10. Clematis marata
  11. Coprosma areolata
  12. Coprosma crassifolia
  13. Coprosma intertexta (R)
  14. Coprosma lucida shining karamü
  15. Coprosma obconica (R/T)
  16. Coprosma sp. ‘Taylorii’
  17. Coprosma propinqua mingimingi
  18. Coprosma robusta karamü
  19. Coprosma rotundifolia round-leaved coprosma
  20. Coprosma rugosa
  21. Coprosma pedicellata (R/T)
  22. Coprosma virescens
  23. Cordyline australis ti köuka, cabbage tree
  24. Corokia cotoneaster korokio, corokia
  25. Elaeocarpus hookerianus pökäkä
  26. Festuca novae-zelandiae fescue grass
  27. Griselinia littoralis päpäuma, broadleaf
  28. Helichrysum lanceolatum niniao
  29. Hypericum gramineum rolled-leaf hypericum
  30. Kunzea serotina känuka
  31. Leptinella filiformis (T)
  32. Leptinella squallida
  33. Leptospermum scoparium mänuka, tea tree
  34. Lophomyrtus obcordata röhutu, NZ myrtle
  35. Melicytus alpinus porcupine shrub
  36. Muehlenbeckia astonii (T) shrubby tororaro
  37. Myrsine australis mäpou, matipou
  38. Myrsine divaricata weeping mäpou
  39. Olearia aff. odorata (T) scented tree-daisy
  40. Ozothamus leptophylla tauhinu, golden cottonwood
  41. Phormium tenax harakeke, New Zealand flax
  42. Pittosporum eugenioides tarata, lemonwood
  43. Pittosporum tenuifolium köhühu
  44. Plagianthus regius mänatu, ribbonwood
  45. Poa cita wï, silver tussock
  46. Podocarpus totara tötara
  47. Pomaderris phylicifolia var. ericifolia (T) tauhinu
  48. Prumnopitys taxifolia mataï, black pine
  49. Raukaua anomalus whauwhaupaku
  50. Sophora microphylla köwhai
  51. Sophora prostrata dwarf köwhai
  52. Teucrium parvifolium (T)

Some Maori names are generic, eg.
wi – tussock spp.
karamu – Coprosma spp.
akeake – olearia spp.

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