Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Wednesday wildflower: moth plant

Moth plant isn't something I've noticed before, but this week I'm holidaying on Waiheke Island and seeing quite a few northern weeds.  Moth plant, Araujia sericifera, is one of these.

It's a twining climber that smothers shrubs and trees.  Moth plant was introduced probably as an ornamental, but like many it has escaped to become an environmental nuisance.  It's native to South America, although might have been introduced here from Europe, where it is cultivated.

The quite large (about 20-25 mm diameter) fragrant flowers are pollinated by moths, among other things.  It's also known as "cruel plant", seemingly because the petals close around pollinating moths at night and release them in the morning.
Parsonsia heterophylla flowers.  Scale = 5mm.

Our only native member of its family, Apocynaceae, is Parsonsia, with three species.

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