What is a New Zealand plant icon? Is it a tree that dominates the forest through its sheer size and magnificence, such as the mighty kauri? Or a plant that dominates its landscape through sheer force of numbers, such as the vast beech forests of the South Island or the huge plantations of Pinus radiata in the North Island? Is it frequency and familiarity throughout the country; such as with the cabbage tree, flax and kowhai? Is it through the beauty or uniqueness of the plant, such as the Mt Cook lily and the strange-looking vegetable sheep?
It is, of course, all these things, and more. There are plants that, for whatever reason, evoke a certain ‘New Zealandness’; their presence helps to define this country and distinguishes New Zealand from any other country in the world. This book celebrates those plants and includes those you would expect — the pohutukawa, totara, tussock and toetoe — but there are also some surprises. In a book of this size decisions on what to leave out had to be made, but the author and photographer both feel that the plants in the book deserve their place, though often for very different reasons.