Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Otari-Wilton’s Bush

with 57 comments

Five years ago today we spent time at Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington.
That calls for five pictures, the first being a typical bush scene there.

The next one shows you a Marlborough rock daisy, Pachystegia insignis.

I’m a sucker for lichens, as you see in the following two pictures.

The lichen in the first of these was on the trunk of a tawa tree (Beilschmiedia tawa).

And how could I not show you another tree fern, especially from above?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 20, 2020 at 4:49 AM

57 Responses

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  1. Interesting Steve re the Marlborough rock daisy. I’ve seen it in gardens and nurseries, and grown it in my own garden, and I’ve never seen it like in your photo with the maroon leaf margin (and maroon hints in the flower bud too?). I went to TERRAIN to look at more photos and I think that may be a hybrid – Pachystegia rufa X insignis. Note the site has separate pages for insignis, rufa and minor as well as this page for the hybrid (incidentally the photos are also from Otari). Link: http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/trees-native-botanical-names-m-to-q/pachystegia-rufa-x-insignis-hybrid.html

    Ms. Liz

    February 20, 2020 at 5:15 AM

    • Once again I’ll say that I was a stranger in a strange land. I didn’t know, till your link pointed it out, that there are three species and that they can interbreed when in close proximity. I identified this as Pachystegia insignis from a little sign near some of these plants. (I take pictures of signs like that so I can tell what I photographed.) Still, it seems cross-pollination could have been possible. I’m afraid we’ll never know—unless perhaps you take a trip to the place and check out the specimens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2020 at 10:09 AM

      • Wellington’s a bit of a hike for me so nope! I’ve got some photos of two different species together in the native garden at Dunedin Botanic Garden, both with flower buds ready to burst. I’ll try and post them sometime soon(ish).

        Ms. Liz

        February 20, 2020 at 1:49 PM

  2. I especially like the first view of the bush: it certainly suggests why the phrase ‘bush-whacking’ came to be. That first lichen reminds me of the ones that grow on our rocks; it’s interesting that you found it on a tree trunk.

    I was most taken with the photo of the rock daisy, and surprised how much the bloom resembles the ten-angled pipewort that I found in east Texas. The structures of the plants themselves differ considerably, of course, but the similarities between the bud and the pipewort are fun.


    February 20, 2020 at 6:27 AM

    • One drawback for nature photographers in New Zealand is that so much of the native bush has been cut down for ranching and farming. There are places where you keep driving and never get out of site of large plantations of non-native pine trees. As a counter-measure, conservationists have set up reserves like Otari-Wilton’s Bush to foster what’s native, and I was fortunate to have read about this one and knew to go there. Some large stands of native bush survive in remote areas, especially in the southern part of the South Island, which we got to on our second trip.

      I see what you mean about the resemblance to the pipewort, even if the shapes and structures are different.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2020 at 10:37 AM

  3. I’m stunned by your awesome compositions, Steve. They bring us right into your images.


    February 20, 2020 at 7:54 AM

    • It’s easy to find good things to photograph in New Zealand, Dina. You’ve been showing great landscapes of England, and New Zealand would offer you many more if you get the chance to visit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2020 at 10:28 AM

      • Well, you’ll have to be a good photographer to capture the scenery of New Zealand 🇳🇿 this well, Steve. I’ll be content just admiring your work; we are not flying anywhere for pleasure any longer, nor are we boarding any vessels or cruise ships for the sake of holidaying or photography. We still use our car though, the carbon footprint of the four wheel drive is a pain. 🤔


        February 21, 2020 at 12:45 PM

        • Even without traveling long distances you’ve been able to find plenty of photo-worthy sites in England. There’s a lot to be said for highlighting the things in one’s vicinity.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 21, 2020 at 12:58 PM

  4. Where are the wood elves? The hobbits? Gandalf? Along with this beauty, did you see them? Kidding aside, those are really stunning photos. That tree, sigh–just gorgeous. I want to go to New Zealand…


    February 20, 2020 at 8:03 AM

    • I strongly encourage you to go. If you click the New Zealand tag at the end of the post you can scroll through more of New Zealand’s natural wonders that will make you even more eager to go there. Yes, the place is far away, but between our first visit (from which these pictures came) and our second visit two years later, Air New Zealand instituted non-stop flights from Houston to Auckland. It was worth it to drive the two-and-a-half hours to Houston, where we paid only about $4.50 a day to leave our car in the parking lot of a hotel close to the airport, with a free shuttle bus in both directions between the hotel and the terminal. With a non-stop flight you avoid the possibility of delayed luggage, as happened to one of our bags on the recent trip to the Philippines.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2020 at 10:27 AM

    • By the way, when I tell people I visited New Zealand I often get asked whether I went to the sites where those movies were filmed. The places have become tourist magnets, but I somehow never got into the Hobbit books or movies, and therefore chose to go to other places. If you’e a fan of the books and movies, you have an extra incentive to go to New Zealand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2020 at 10:54 AM

  5. The geometry of the tree fern is astounding. Equally amazing is the abstract art created by the lichen. Another great post, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    February 20, 2020 at 8:30 AM

  6. Love them all, especially the rock daisy with the maroon edged leaves, such a lovely composition. The tree fern looks like a parasol.


    February 20, 2020 at 8:40 AM

  7. I love this series. You can tell you were enjoying yourself there. The tree fern~I love those. If I ever have a greenhouse, I’m going to get one of those!


    February 20, 2020 at 10:38 AM

    • That’d have to be a pretty tall greenhouse!

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2020 at 11:06 AM

      • I’ve not heard of this place, but then again, I don’t often get to Wellington. The Botanic Gardens, though, are among my favorites anywhere, especially up in the area of Druid Hill.


        February 20, 2020 at 1:57 PM

      • Oh…they don’t come small?


        February 21, 2020 at 9:34 AM

        • New Zealand has plenty of small ferns, but the tree ferns grow like… trees.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 21, 2020 at 10:14 AM

          • I was picturing them as smaller trees, slow growing.


            February 22, 2020 at 9:25 AM

            • As someone who was a stranger in a strange land in NZ, I don’t know how quickly tree ferns grow, or if some species grow as only small trees.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 22, 2020 at 11:11 AM

              • It would be neat to have a conservatory, I’ve always thought, and if I could find a small specimen that would be perfect. Maybe I’d have to will it to the Chicago Botanic Garden or something.


                February 23, 2020 at 8:29 AM

                • Seems to me a conservatory would take a lot of work to maintain, no?

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 23, 2020 at 9:52 AM

                • No idea. Us northerners long for lemon trees in winter…what can I say?


                  February 25, 2020 at 8:07 AM

  8. Here I am still trapped in the thrall of Iceland, and now I want to go back to New Zealand. I can feel it. That’s your fault.

    Michael Scandling

    February 20, 2020 at 3:44 PM

    • I’ll bet there are non-stop flights from San Francisco to Auckland…

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 20, 2020 at 5:03 PM

      • Yep

        Michael Scandling

        February 20, 2020 at 5:19 PM

        • The nearest non-stop flight to our home in Austin is 165 miles away, in Houston. I think you have it better.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 20, 2020 at 5:35 PM

          • In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that bad. You could be in Omaha.

            Michael Scandling

            February 20, 2020 at 6:05 PM

            • Four years ago we attended a wedding in Kansas City on May 28. Having never been to Nebraska, I intended to continue to Omaha afterwards, but the weather, even at that late date, was so cold and stormy further north that we had to give up and return home. After waiting a month, we turned back around and made it to Nebraska, though the western part of it, so we’ve still never been to Omaha.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 20, 2020 at 6:33 PM

  9. The daisy doesn’t look like a daisy at all, but I assume it’s because the petals haven’t unfurled yet. Or maybe they never will.


    February 20, 2020 at 9:54 PM

  10. […] fast-tracked this post because Steve Schwartzman posted some NZ plant photos and we’ve been discussing his Marlborough rock daisy photo which I suspect is an example of […]

  11. I have been to Otari-Wilton bush only once. That was in 2002 when I didn’t own a camera. So it is good that you took beautiful photos to share with us.


    February 21, 2020 at 6:30 AM

    • And I’m glad to have done so. How things have changed since 2002: almost everyone has a cell phone with them all the time now, and therefore also a camera. Had you visited Otari-Wilton’s Bush recently, you’d not have been bereft.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2020 at 6:36 AM

  12. That rock daisy is a very interesting bloom. I like the bud a bit more than the open flower. That bush scene looks a challenge to hike through and the tree fern is gorgeous.

    Steve Gingold

    February 22, 2020 at 3:55 PM

    • I took some pictures of the Marlborough daisy flowers but insects had nibbled them and they didn’t look great. That’s why I previously showed a drying seed head and why this time I went with one of those fuzzy buds. We photographers find the bush gorgeous; in contrast, British colonists in New Zealand disliked the bush and cut much if it down, just as they did in colonial America. As for tree ferns, I could never get enough of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 22, 2020 at 8:41 PM

  13. All very lovely! Your lichen abstract is my favorite.


    February 23, 2020 at 12:47 PM

  14. Fantastic, Steve – these really make me want to travel down under!


    February 23, 2020 at 2:09 PM

    • Go, go, go for it. You won’t regret it. We were fortunate to have a second round just two years later.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2020 at 5:37 PM

  15. That’s a beautiful tree fern Steve … wonderful collection!


    February 29, 2020 at 1:01 PM

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