2019 Favourite Native Plant

Taurepo, Rhabdothamnus solandri, 2019 Favourite Native Plant (photo: John Smith-Dodsworth).

New Zealand’s favourite plant of 2019, the official victor of our 16th favourite plant vote is Taurepo, Rhabdothamnus solandri. Unlike many past winners, Taurepo is not a total oddity, it does not have any urgent conservation issues, and it is not what we would consider an iconic New Zealand species. But it is a damn lovely thing! Almost all of us who have encountered this North Island shrub are immediately drawn to it, it’s round, hairy, toothed leaves sit somewhere between a Lacebark and a papery version of Silver Beech, it’s tangled mass of stems invoke Coprosma, but it’s flowers are like nothing else and should be like nothing else as Rhadothamnus is an endemic monotypic genus, and the only representative of the Gesneriaceae family in New Zealand. The solitary bell-like flowers, which can almost always be encountered as it flowers throughout the year, range from orange, through yellow, sometimes to purple or pink, and are striped lengthwise with red or dark orange veins making Taurepo instantly recognisable. Congratulations to all of those who voted for this little beauty, well-deserved of its place amid New Zealand’s most beloved plant species.