The "Halley's comet" of the plant world is flowering at ZEALANDIA
Heketara (Olearia rani) is flowering profusely at ZEALANDIA this spring
Frothy white-capped trees scattered across the western scarp have captured people's attention this spring - but what are they? According to plant enthusiast Pam Fuller, they are heketara (Olearia rani) - a type of tree daisy - that flowers only every three years or so at ZEALANDIA.
Up close, they look similar to the more common rangiora (Brachyglottis repanda), which is also a tree daisy, but with smaller leathery leaves and larger flowers. To get up close is challenging at ZEALANDIA, as they mostly grow on the steep Western Scarp away from the public tracks. Recently, two of our more intrepid volunteer photographers headed up for a closer look and found a lovely specimen clinging to a cliff face.
Check out their photos in the gallery below...
There are still some trees in flower, which are best seen when looking across the lake from the Pontoon or Takahē Lawn. If you've missed them, you'll only need to wait three years to see heketara flower again. Which may try your patience, but is perhaps not quite as bad as waiting for Halley's comet to return!
And some good news - Māori traditionally believed that when heketara flowers profusely, a fine summer was about to arrive.
Story by Alfie Kākā
Photos by Hayley May and Linton Miller