Introducing the Kaitorete Woolly Head

Craspedia 'Kaitorete'

Craspedia ‘Kaitorete’

If you’ve never come across the Kaitorete Woolly Head – Craspedia ‘Kaitorete’ – it’s hard to imagine what this rare and endangered plant might look like. As it turns out, it’s a nondescript specimen – low-growing and grey with soft, velvety leaves that look a little like rabbit ears. It could be easily overlooked.

Craspedia is a genus of daisies commonly known as billy buttons or woolly heads. They’re native to New Zealand and Australia, where they grow in a wide variety of habitats from sea level to the alps. In New Zealand, they’re found from East Cape in the North Island, all the way down to Stewart Island and the Chathams. Of the 23 species, six are found in New Zealand, usually growing on coastal sand dunes, in wetlands and on greywacke rock scree.

Craspedia ‘Kaitorete’ though, is found only on Kaitorete Spit, close to Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. It is one of the rarest plants in New Zealand.

Photograph copyright: Steve Attwood, Christchurch.