Wanaka, Hawea and Upper Clutha Trees

Cabbage trees/tī kōuka and Harakeke/flax

New Zealand landscape. They will often reach a height of 12-20 metres. Very popular in Britain, Europe, and the U.S. In the former they’re known as Torquay palm.

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The flowers are very scented in early summer, and turn into bluish-white berries that birds love to eat. It is very fire-resistant. Māori used cabbage trees as a food, fibre and medicine. The leaves were woven into baskets, sandals, rope, rain capes and other items and were also made into tea to cure diarrhoea and dysentery. Lastly they were also planted to mark trails, boundaries, urupā (cemeteries) and births, since they are generally long-lived.

There are two identified species of flax in New Zealand – common flax (harakeke) and mountain flax (wharariki). (Harakeke is really a lily).They are unique to New Zealand and is one of our most ancient plant species. It grows up to 3 metres and its flower stalks can reach up to 4 metres. Tui, bellbirds/ korimako, saddlebacks/tīeke, short tailed bats/pekapeka, geckos and several types of insects enjoy nectar from the flax flower.

Flax was a valuable resource to Europeans during the 19th century because of its strength. It was New Zealand’s biggest export by far until wool and frozen mutton took over. Today, it is used in soaps, hand creams, shampoos and a range of other cosmetics. Flaxseed oil can also be found for sale.

Flax was the most important fibre plant to Māori in New Zealand. Each pā or marae typically had a ‘pā harakeke’, or flax plantation. Different varieties were specially grown for their strength, softness, colour and fibre content.

The uses of the flax fibre were numerous and varied. Weaving is now very common. Clothing, mats, plates, baskets, ropes, bird snares, lashings, fishing lines and nets were all made from flax leaves. Floats or rafts were made out of bundles of dried flower stalks. The abundant nectar from flax flowers was used to sweeten food and beverages. Flax also had many medicinal uses.

The outer layer represented the grandparents, whereas the inner layer of new shoots – the child – remained and were to be protected by the next inner layer of leaves, the parents.

Infrared of poplar trees

Poplars were first grown in New Zealand in the 1830s. Although ornamental in Central Otago they were primarily planted upwind in rather mundane straight lines to provide shelter for stock and houses. Especially from wind, but also to provide shelter from the intense summer sun .

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This is probably the Lombardy poplar, given its column-like form. And was also often planted to mark boundaries and river fords as they could be seen from a distance. This planting is very grouped thus supplying quite a magical feel, in the gathering dusk of a summer evening.

That Wanaka Tree!

A willow that was once a fence post. Now a “must see/photograph” for every tourist that comes to New Zealand.

See more of this iconic attraction in this web site>>

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That Wanaka Tree

I’ve been around this now famous tree in more ways than one, e.g. swimming, and simply took it for granted for a few decades.

In snow, flood, or times of drought this tree that used to be a fence post earlier than 1939, endures with a determination to not just live, but to be a rock star of the Internet

However before it became famous a few of us had been there with cameras in sunshine and storm, simply because it was nice subject matter for landscape photographers.

But even then we had no idea how social media would change all that – now days getting an image of it with no people is the ultimate challenge.

A Wanaka Tree photographer working in a  snow-storm under an umbrella

And so the photographers came! With tripods, umbrellas, children and iPhones!

That Wanaka Tree at sunset

And often the sun sets on a perfect day, which finds the lake levels either up or down or somewhere in between

That Wanaka Tree bathing in unusual light

But what intrigues me of late is the tree seems to sense the attention it gets and becomes alive in another universe

Wedding couple by the Wanaka Tree

Then again it is not always the centre of attention

None of these blog page images are listed in our shop yet, but if you happen to be interested please note which image and email Donald so he can process the various options, and advise you with a link when completed

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