Manual of the New Zealand Flora/Preface
Forty-two years have elapsed since Sir J. D. Hooker published the first part of his "Handbook of the New Zealand Flora." Although no complete account of the plants of the colony has since been prepared, botanical investigations have been actively and zealously carried on, and a large amount of fresh material obtained. No less than four hundred separate communications or short papers dealing with the botany of New Zealand have been published, and the number of new species proposed is considerably over a thousand. The literature and descriptions of the new species are scattered through the thirty-seven volumes of the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute and other publications, some of which are not readily accessible to the majority of workers in the colony. To make satisfactory use of such a mass of unarranged and undigested material is beyond the power of any except a few experts: in any case an attempt to do so would prove both tedious and troublesome. In short, the want of a compendious Flora has long been a serious hindrance to the study of the indigenous vegetation, and a bar to inquiries of any kind connected therewith.
For many years New Zealand botanists hoped that the preparation of a new Flora would be undertaken by the late Mr. T. Kirk. It was known that he had long been collecting material for such a work. His many journeys, extending from the North Cape to the Auckland and Campbell Islands, had given him an unrivalled personal acquaintance with the vegetation, while his numerous writings afforded abundant proof of widespread knowledge, and of accurate and careful botanical research. Under such circumstances, the announcement made in 1894 that he had been engaged by the New Zealand Government to prepare a "Students' Flora of New Zealand" was received with general approval. And when his death occurred in 1897 it was a disappointment to find that barely two-fifths of his task had been completed. This portion has since been printed by the Government, and its value intensifies the regret that the author did not live to complete the work for which he had made so much preparation, and for which he possessed so many undoubted qualifications.
The publication of the fragment left by Mr. Kirk made the want of a complete Flora still more apparent, and in April, 1900, the Government was pleased to intrust me with the preparation of such a work. While allowed full freedom of action in all details, I was instructed to follow the general plan adopted in Sir J. D. Hooker's "Handbook," which, as is well known, was based upon that recommended many years ago by Sir W. J. Hooker for a uniform series of Floras of all the British colonies. With the view of keeping the work within the compass of one volume of portable size, I was further directed to confine it to the indigenous plants, thus departing from the plan followed by Kirk, who included all well-established naturalised plants, distinguishing them from the native species by a difference in the type.
The "Manual of the New Zealand Flora," which is the title adopted for the present work, is intended to comprise within a reasonable compass full descriptions of the whole of the indigenous flowering-plants and ferns found within the limits of the Colony of New Zealand, including not only the two main Islands, but also the outlying groups of the Kermadec Islands, the Chatham Islands, the Auckland and Campbell Islands, Antipodes Island, &c. I have also included Macquarie Island, for although it is politically an appanage of Tasmania, it is more closely allied in its flora and fauna to the Auckland and Campbell Islands than to any other land. In addition to the descriptions, I have given as fully as possible the geographical and altitudinal range of each species within the colony; and, in the case of non-endemic plants, a short statement of their range in other countries. I have also inserted, in a concise form, such general information, whether economic or scientific, as appeared to be of sufficient value. Believing that the main object of a Flora is to afford a ready means of determining the name of any species for the purpose of ulterior study, I have endeavoured so to frame the descriptive matter as to facilitate the work of identification as much as possible. I have therefore prefixed to each order and each genus analytical keys in which the salient characters of the genera and species are contrasted. With respect to the descriptions themselves, they are in almost all cases original, and have been based on the actual examination of living or dried specimens, usually both. After their preparation they were compared with those of my predecessors, and particularly with those of Hooker and Kirk, when any additions or alterations that appeared to be necessary were made. With regard to the citation of previous authors, I have as a rule considered it unnecessary to do more than quote the publications that deal solely or mainly with New Zealand botany, such as Forster's Prodromus, A. Richard's Flora, Cunningham's Precursor, Raoul's Choix, and the works of Hooker and Kirk. Had I given references to general works on botany or to special monographs, the bulk of this work would have been greatly increased without sufficient corresponding advantage. I have, however, quoted the publication in which the species under consideration was first described; and, in the case of those plants which extend to Australia or Tasmania, I have usually given a reference to Bentham's "Flora Australiensis" or Hooker's "Flora of Tasmania." The synonomy I have treated in a similar manner. As far as the information at my command would permit, I have quoted all published names of endemic New Zealand plants, and all names founded upon New Zealand specimens. Further quotation would, in my opinion, be neither necessary nor expedient for the purposes of this work.
Every botanist who prepares a Flora starts from the standpoint reached by his predecessors in the same field. In the subjoined history of botanical discovery in New Zealand I have endeavoured to give a sketch of the labours of all those who have investigated the botany of the colony, either as authors or collectors, and who have thus assisted in providing material for future study and research. But, in addition, it is advisable to briefly mention the chief material upon which the present work is founded. At the outset I must state that I have relied very largely upon my own notes and observations, formed during thirty-five years' continuous study of the flora, and upon my herbarium, which I believe to be the largest and most complete formed by individual effort within the colony.
I am indebted to the Education Department for the loan of that portion of the herbarium of the late Mr. Kirk which after his death was purchased by the New Zealand Government. Although comprising only a small part of the collections formed by this active and enterprising botanist, it nevertheless includes excellent and well-selected specimens of most of the species of the flora, including the types of the new species described by him, and has consequently proved an important aid to me. It is to be regretted that Mr. Kirk's botanical papers and other manuscripts, none of which I have seen, were not included in this purchase.
The Education Department has also placed at my service a set of the plants collected by Banks and Solander during Cook's first voyage, a transcript of Solander's manuscript descriptions, and a set of impressions from the copper plates prepared by Sir Joseph Banks to illustrate the descriptions. All these were presented to the Government a few years ago by the Trustees of the British Museum, and form a unique and valuable addition to the public collections of the colony.
I am indebted to my friend Mr. D. Petrie, well known for his successful explorations in the Otago District, for the very valuable and important aid afforded by the study of his herbarium, which he has loaned to me in instalments during the progress of this work. It is specially rich in specimens of the rarer alpine plants of Otago, which, as a rule, are very poorly represented in other collections.
The herbarium of the late Mr. Colenso has been lent to me by Mr. H. Hill, one of the trustees under his will. It contains a large amount of material, collected at various times between the years 1840 and 1898, but is to a great extent unarranged and unclassified. Fortunately, however, it includes named specimens of many of the supposed "new species" described by him during the last fifteen years of his life, and has thus enabled me to come to more certain conclusions respecting them than would otherwise have been the case.
The private herbarium of the late Mr. John Buchanan has been forwarded for my inspection by the Council of the Otago University, to which body it was bequeathed. Although but a fragment of the collections he formed during his lifetime, it has been of considerable service, as it includes the types of most of his new species, and the drawings and analyses prepared for his work on the New Zealand grasses.
My friend Dr. Cockayne has supplied me with much valuable information, and a considerable amount of interesting material from the Southern Alps, the Chatham Islands, and other localities explored by him. Many of his specimens have been of particular value, from being specially selected to show the range and trend of variation in some of the more variable species of the flora.
The Right Rev. W. L. Williams, Bishop of Waiapu, has placed me under many obligations by regularly forwarding specimens collected by him in the East Cape and Hawke's Bay districts, and by his invaluable help in compiling the list of Maori plant-names given in the Appendix.
Mr. W. Townson, of Westport, has for many years supplied me with numerous sets of specimens, both fresh and dried, collected by him in the south-west portion of the Nelson Provincial District, and often obtained from out-of-the-way localities and at considerable altitudes. So little was previously known respecting the botany of this portion of the colony that his collections and notes have been of great service to me.
I am indebted to Mr. A. Hamilton for the loan of his extensive collection of the ferns of the colony. This is not only unusually complete and well arranged, but also contains many specimens of crested and other abnormal varieties.
I have also to record my thanks to Sir James Hector, Mr. J. D. Enys, Mr. G. M. Thomson, Mr. H. Hill, Mr. Justice Chapman, Mr. Percy Smith, Mr. H. J. Matthews, Mr. F. E. Gibbs, Mr. J. H. Macmahon, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. R. H. Matthews, Mr. H. Carse, Mr. Elsdon Best, Mr. R. J. Kingsley, Rev. F. R. Spencer, Mr. H. C. Field, Mr. J. Rutland, Mr. F. A. D. Cox, Mr. J. Hall, Mr. H. H. Travers, Mr. J. B. Simpson, and several others, for the material assistance they have rendered me.
Turning from New Zealand, I have now to express my gratitude to several friends and correspondents in Europe. First of all, I wish to tender my special thanks to Sir J. D. Hooker, who during a correspondence extending over thirty-five years has been at all times ready to give me the benefit of his wide knowledge and experience, and who has evinced the greatest possible interest in the inception and progress of this work. My thanks are also due to Sir W. T. Thistleton-Dyer, the present Director of Kew, for his kindness in granting facilities for the comparison of my specimens with the types preserved in the Kew Herbarium, and for other valuable assistance; also to Mr. W. B. Hemsley, the Assistant Director, who has given me much helpful aid with the greatest readiness and kindness; and to Mr. N. E. Brown, who was specially instructed by the Director to make a comparison of my specimens with the types of the species in Veronica, Gentiana, Myosotis, and other genera, and whose report on the subject has been invaluable to me. I am also greatly indebted to Mr. C. B. Clarke for his unwearied kindness in supplying me with information and critical notes respecting the New Zealand Cyperaceæ, and for furnishing me with a list of the synonymy of the species. Pastor G. Kukenthal, of Grub, near Cobourg, has also contributed valuable notes respecting the New Zealand species of Carex and Uncinia. Finally, I am under many obligations to Professor E. Hackel, of Graz, Austria, for undertaking a critical examination of the whole of the New Zealand grasses, and for furnishing me with a series of very full and complete notes, with permission to use the same for the purposes of this work.
The elimination of the naturalised species from the present work, although absolutely necessary to keep it within the limits of a single volume, will not be altogether satisfactory to the student. A beginner cannot be expected to distinguish between the indigenous and introduced species, especially when it is remembered that in several districts the latter now constitute the larger portion of the flora, and that there is no part of the country, however remote, into which some plants of foreign origin have not penetrated. Altogether, over six hundred species, or nearly one-half the number of the indigenous flowering-plants, have succeeded in establishing themselves. I am not without hopes that I may be enabled to prepare a supplementary volume containing concise but sufficient descriptions of the foreign element of the flora; for this alone will remove the inconvenience resulting from the want of a ready means of determining all the plants which a student may observe in any district. In the meantime, I have given in the Appendix a nominal list of all well-established naturalised plants, with references to books in which descriptions of them can be found. As most of the species are of European origin, I would recommend the student to provide himself with a copy of Hooker's "Students' Flora of the British Islands," or some similar work, and to use it in conjunction with this publication.
It is not to be expected that a work containing descriptions of over 1,550 species of plants can be prepared without the occurrence of errors and imperfections, and for these I must ask the indulgence of the reader. One serious disadvantage under which I have laboured, and which I share in common with all colonial botanists, is the impossibility of examining those European herbaria in which the types of so many of the published species are deposited; and consequently mistakes may have been made in the identification of the species, especially in genera like Veronica, Gentiana, Myosotis, &c. But I trust that the number of such errors is not large. Their detection may be safely left to future workers.
A few statistics respecting the extent and composition of the flora may be of interest. The total number of species described, including a few additions given in the Appendix, is 1,571, of which 1,415 are phænogams, and 156 vascular cryptogams. These are contained in 382 genera, distributed in 97 orders. The average number of species to each order is slightly over 16; the average number of species to each genus rather more than 4. The orders containing more than 24 species are as under:—
The Compositæ thus constitute one-seventh of the whole flora, an unusually high proportion. The genera containing twenty species or more are:—
Of the total number of species (1,571) no fewer than 1,143, or nearly three-quarters of the entire flora, are peculiar to the colony. With respect to the 428 species which are found elsewhere, 366 extend to Australia, and 108 to South America. Coming to the local distribution of the species, 789 are found in both the North and South Islands, 219 occur in the North Island but have not yet been detected in the South Island, while 456 species known to occur in the South Island have not been collected in the North Island. No fewer than 23 species are found in the Kermadec Islands but not in any other portion of the colony; 25 in the Chatham Islands; 10 in Stewart Island; and 48 in the outlying islands to the south of New Zealand, including in the term the Auckland and Campbell Islands, Antipodes Island, and Macquarie Island.
It now only remains for me to express my grateful thanks to the Education Department, under whose auspices the work has been prepared, for the readiness with which it has co-operated with me in endeavouring to render it as complete and reliable as possible. In this connection, I would specially mention the Right Hon. R. J. Seddon, Minister of Education, and Mr. G. Hogben, M.A., the Inspector-General of Schools. My thanks are also due to the Council of the Auckland Institute and Museum for kindly allowing me to engage a substitute to perform a portion of my duties at the Museum during the progress of the work. Finally, I have to express my obligations to the Government Printer for the assiduous care with which he has attended to the passage of the work through the press.
- Auckland, January, 1906.