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A day for ferns in NZ

  • Subject: [ferns] A day for ferns in NZ
  • From: "Brian Swale" bj@caverock.net.nz
  • Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2003 10:51:51 +1300
  • In-reply-to: <200303110501.h2B512v26301@lorien.mallorn.com>

Hello folks,

Two days ago I met up in Christchurch New Zealand (my home city) with 
Bors from Seattle, and we drove south for 2 hours to go to a reserved forest 
called Peel Forest that he was very keen to see. You might recall that about 
4 months ago he signalled he was going to do this trip.

Peel Forest covers an area of several thousand acres,  (probably 2 - 4,000 
hectares or more). The topography ranges from river-side podocarp forest at 
about 200 metres asl, through a range of forest up to subalpine land at ? 
2,000 metres asl (guessing there) and there is the full range of exposure to 
the sun all around the compass, and topography from flat wet swamp to 
precipitous slopes under forest and not. The forest is on the western edge of 
the Canterbury Plains, and manages to get some southern rain from cold 
fronts that clip the foothills, as well as north-western blow-over rain from the 
West Coast. Also, the upper levels seen to find themselves in localised low 
cloud and mist quite often.

There are 68 species of fern recorded from there, and Bors wanted to find as 
many as possible. 68 is quite a high percentage of the approximately 140 
species of pteridophyte growing in NZ. There are probably few sites in New 
Zealand of such a compact shape and relatively small size with so many 

On the edge of plains that are in a screaming drought at the moment, the 
fern habitats we saw were also suffering from lack of water. We found only 18 
species in the 4 hours walking we managed given time constraints. I think 18 
- I left the tallying job to Bors since we wanted to keep count. I think we both 
thought we'd find more in the walk we did..

All in all, an enjoyable day out with a nearly total stranger, and a new friend 
made. It's good to get out among ferns with another fern enthusiast. I think 
Bors enjoyed the day, and he was camping there for the night and would 
have explored some more yesterday on his own.


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