2016 winner of Favourite Native Plant vote

Rata moehau (Metrosideros bartlettii). Photo: Peter de Lange.

The 2016 Favourite Plant vote winner is a very rare and troubled species, Metrosideros bartlettii, rātā Moehau or Bartlett’s rātā. Since winning the title in 2014, more research has been undertaken to try to better understand the status of this species in both propagation and remnant wild populations. Its future is not looking too bright and comments posted so far sum up the situation:

“The ‘Doomsday Clock’ is ticking. Rata Moehau is now down to 12 wild plants, with five effective genotypes (two in cultivation), and so already functionally extinct. It will be a long haul to bring it back from the brin
k. Raising its profile will help—this tree needs all the friends it can get.”

“It may have featured before as the favourite native plant, but the plight faced by Metrosideros bartlettii is serious and urgent. It’s also extremely beautiful, has a fascinating story, and has the potential for widespread appeal. It is particularly important at this point in time that M. bartlettii receives as much attention as possible.”

“A beautiful tree on the brink of extinction. Need to act fast to save this tree. With the threat of myrtle rust arriving in New Zealand, we don’t know how this rust will affect it, so active conservation is key right now.”

“I chose rata Moehau to highlight this species’ plight and that of other critically rare plants in New Zealand because they serve as indicators that important processes and relationships in the ecosystem are being disrupted and that attention is needed to correct those disruptions for the sake of the entire system.”