Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: A second and quite different look at native bush

with 13 comments

In contrast to the last post’s horizontally oriented and at least partially maintained landscape, here’s a distinctly vertical and thoroughly wild one I saw in the mountains along SH 6 between Greymouth and Punakaiki on February 17th. No one was about to try planting crops on a slope this steep, so the native bush survived here.

(By the way, if you scroll down into the comments section of yesterday’s post, you’ll see how different and how much more abstract that landscape photograph becomes after it’s been rotated 90°.)

Native Bush on Mountainside 4996

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 11, 2015 at 4:20 AM

13 Responses

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  1. I first wondered if I was looking at lichen and small plants attached to boulders, but as I scrolled down, I thought, “No.. I think those are trees…”

    We need Superman soaring across the scene to show scale! I am using a small screen but I think I spot those lovely tree ferns.. So my next thought, as I scanned the entire image again, was, “How do those trees hold tight to such a vertical terrain?”

    • Without an indication of scale you might indeed at first mistake this for a closeup of lichens and tiny plants on a rock, but I’ll act as a verbal Superman and say that in fact this was a mix of trees and tree ferns, so you’re looking at part of a mountainside. Although I never got close enough to it to tell for sure, I think there were narrow ledges that gave the trees and tree ferns a foothold on the rock face. I’m guessing that the rocks had fissures in them as well, so the plants’ roots could grow down into the rock and provide even more of an anchor.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 11, 2015 at 12:50 PM

  2. Very nice. I have discovered my photos from Rotorua – Wai-O-Tapu and posted a few today.
    This is very typical of our countryside where it is very hilly around the coast line.

    Raewyn's Photos

    July 11, 2015 at 2:48 PM

  3. New Zealand is on my “Bucket List”, your photos are such a strong nudge to get going and make a trip happen this year or next.

  4. Looking at the contrast between the red and black rock, I thought about your earlier photo of Te Puia, where you commented on the surprise of the reddish rock there. I think I remember the same combination of red and black from an earlier photo taken at the coast. My impression is that the reddish rock is a thin layer over the black, however it was formed.

    The closest analogue I can think of from our home territory are the chert nodules found in hill country limestone. I just looked at the broken half of a rounded one I use as a paper weight, and see that the outside layer is only about 1/16″. With its sandstone-colored exterior and dark center, it looks remarkably like the hill.


    July 12, 2015 at 7:27 AM

    • You’ve done more speculating about the red rock than I have. What you say is plausible, and the red could be a covering over darker rock. (Time to ask myself again why I never took an introductory geology course in college. The year of “earth science” in ninth grade doesn’t seem to have left me with much knowledge.)

      I’ve heard of chert but wouldn’t have been able to say what it is. The Wikipedia article about it identifies chert as “a fine-grained silica-rich microcrystalline, cryptocrystalline or microfibrous sedimentary rock that may contain small fossils. It varies greatly in color (from white to black), but most often manifests as gray, brown, grayish brown and light green to rusty red; its color is an expression of trace elements present in the rock, and both red and green are most often related to traces of iron (in its oxidized and reduced forms respectively).”

      We probably have some tiny hidden crystals in our tissues somewhere, so maybe we can justify describing ourselves as cryptocrystalline. That’s a good word, so we’ve gotta get it in somehow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 12, 2015 at 7:56 AM

      • Here’s a photo of a complete chert nodule and a broken one. The complete nodule is about the size of a baseball. These were collected on the old Spicer Ranch between Kerrville and Medina, but they can be found along the Edwards Plateau generally. Here’s a little information about Flint Knob in western Travis County. And note the interesting word: knapper, as in flintknapper.


        July 12, 2015 at 8:14 AM

        • Ah, I recognize the type of surface revealed in the split-open chert nodule.

          I wonder if any flintknappers have fallen prey to kidnappers.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 12, 2015 at 10:32 AM

  5. Such an interesting feature on that mountainside. It appears that a chunk of exterior red rock may have slid off revealing the dark inner stone. If that is the case it would have been a bit of a while ago with all that growth. Maybe that would have created a foothold for the plants and trees.

    Steve Gingold

    July 12, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    • And a tardy reading of Linda’s comment seems to be of the same thinking.

      Steve Gingold

      July 12, 2015 at 6:28 PM

      • It certainly looks like a vertical piece of outwardly reddish reddish rock fell off and revealed the bluish-grey of the mountain’s interior. New Zealand gets cold in the winter, and the repeated freezing and thawing of water in crevices contributes to the weathering of rock. I’d say the trees are proof that that process or other processes have created footholds, even if we can’t easily see those footholds from a distance.

        Steve Schwartzman

        July 13, 2015 at 5:40 AM

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