Botany of Mangemangeroa Reserve, south-east Auckland Ewen k cameron & Leslie Haines

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Botany of Mangemangeroa Reserve, south-east Auckland
Ewen K Cameron & Leslie Haines
Mangemangeroa Reserve is a 22ha narrow mostly steep coastal forest along the north-west edge of Mangemangeroa Creek and parallel to Somerville Road just south of Howick, south-east Auckland (Fig. 1). The Waitemata sediments are deeply cut down by several small streams flow down the escarpment. Manukau City Council bought the land in 1994 and the pleasant walkway along it was established in 1999. A south Auckland Forest & Bird stalwart, Betty Harris, played a key role in persuading the Mayor and Council to purchase the former private farm. The land on the south-east side of the creek was less steep, and contains less native vegetation. Middens and a fortified site indicate Maori occupation previous to European farming. Farm stock was finally excluded from the forest area in 1999 and some possum control has occurred more recently.
Attendees of the Auckland Botanical Society fieldtrip to Mangemangeroa on 20 May 2006: Sally Barclay (Royal Society Teacher Fellow researching the reserve), Ewen Cameron, Holly Cox (past ecological researcher of the catchment), Gail Donaghy, Graham Falla (Friends of Mangemangeroa Reserve), Colleen Frampton, Leslie Haines, Graeme Jane, Sandra Jones, Joan Kember, Helen Lyons, Elaine Marshall, Carol & Garry McSweeney, Cara and Ros Nicholson (trip leader), Juliet Richmond, Josh Slater and Tony Williams.
In 2000 local Rotary clubs and Forest and Bird, working separately, became involved in bush restoration planting, and the Friends of Mangemangeroa was formed 1-2 years after that (incorporated in 2002) with the aim of fostering the wellbeing of Mangemangeroa with emphasis on protecting the natural features. The Friends come under the umbrella of Manukau Parks and work in consultation with them. In October 2006 a revised draft Management Plan for the reserve was released for public comment.
The author of a recent MSc thesis of the Mangemangeroa catchment, Holly Cox (2000), joined us for the trip. Holly’s thesis was written on the terrestrial ecology, with an emphasis on the large and small scale vegetation patterns, in the Mangemangeroa Catchment. This was undertaken as part of a larger study of how the catchment and protected estuary would be affected by lifestyle block development due to district plan change. She examined: land use and vegetation history and the relationship between the two; current vegetation of the catchment; conservation mechanisms of habitat on private property. The fieldwork undertaken included: permanent plots 15 x 15m; sampling of all vegetation-cover abundance; basal area and density; litter depth, soil compactness; bird counts. The data collected was analysed using classification and ordination. Analysed data was then separated into vegetation types and mapped.
Sally Barclay (2003) also joined us for part of the day. She completed a NZ Science Mathematics and Technology Teacher Fellowship in 2003. She documented the location of the larger trees in the reserve using a GPS and digital photography.
Thomas Cheeseman made notes of his visit ‘Howick to Maungamaungaroa [Mangemangeroa]’ in June 1873 (Stanley 1998) and recorded ‘scanty’ vegetation of Metrosideros robusta, akepiro (Olearia furfuracea), Coprosma lucida, C. robusta, Leucopogon fasciculatus, and Ozothamnus leptophyllus. Two of these (akipiro, Oz. leptophyllus) are not currently recorded for the reserve. Cheeseman recorded at that time on the western side of the creek “…is distinguished with several patches of bush” and on the eastern bank opposite the most common trees were tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa), taraire (B. tarairi), puriri (Vitex lucens), toro (Myrsine salicina) (not currently listed for the reserve), mapou (M. australis), kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile) and with a few rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum), kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacyrdioides) and kauri (Agathis australis).
Alan Esler and one of his sons, Wilson, in December 1984 surveyed the escarpment on the northwestern side of the Mangemangeroa Creek before the reserve was created (Esler & Esler 1985). They briefly described the habitat, vegetation, made several management considerations and provided a vascular plant list of 115 native species. They also interestingly pointed out: “This is the most species-rich forest bordering an estuary in the Waitemata or Manukau Harbours.”
This reserve has some splendid remnants of mature coastal broadleaf forest. The area has been divided into seven vegetation communities: mature kohekohe, taraire forest, mahoe (Melicytus ramiflorus)/kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum)/mapou forest, regenerating totara (Podocarpus totara), taraire/kohekohe forest, mangroves (Avicennia marina), grassland (Fig. 2, Manukau City Council 2006). Although it is a narrow coastal strip of bush, the diversity is from saltmarsh (north end) species such as Plagianthus divaricatus, Samolus repens, Selliera radicans and oioi (Apodasmia similis), to cliff and gully species, with a small number of freshwater wetland (south end) species, including Baumea rubiginosa – others were difficult to distinguish at that time of the year. The mahoe/kawakawa/mapou forest is noticeably youngest and is located toward the narrow north-eastern end of the reserve and also adjacent to the grassed area along Somerville Road. The central bush patches of mature kohekohe forest and the taraire/kohekohe forest have some very large trees such as emergent Metrosideros robusta, and canopy species titoki (Alectryon excelsus), kohekohe, rewarewa (Knightea excelsa), taraire, tawa, puriri, karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus), kowhai (Sophora microphylla s.l) and pigeonwood (Hedycarya arborea). Towards the south-western end of the reserve is the taraire dominated forest with large kahikatea. Clematis paniculata is scattered through the forest. Undergrowth is healthy for the majority of the forest, e.g. mangeao (Litsea calicaris) seedlings, although the area of dense regenerating totara c.8m tall was sparse underneath.
How appropriate to visit an area named after a fern. The reserve and estuary name means ‘valley of the mangemange’ named after the climbing fern Lygodium articulatum, which is very local in the valley (Holly Cox pers. comm.). It may have been more common before the area was heavily disturbed. It was used by Maori for: rope, thatching (lashing the thatch), fish hooks, eel traps, cutting greenstone and coils to sleep on – the term “bushman’s mattress’ recalls how early Europeans also used it for rough bedding (Riley 1994).
Revegetation is occurring in the small patches within the fenced reserve. Over the last six years there has also been planting (evidently eco-sourced), of mostly Coprosma robusta, manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) and kawakawa, with some taraire, kahikatea, puriri and totara. Some of the planted kawakawa shrubs in the open suffered from a leaf curl – after showing photos and samples to various experts the cause was left unresolved.
Unfortunately there has been some vandalism to vines especially cutting off large rata vines, and it is thought to be possibly due to a misunderstanding of the value of these plants. However, along the protected bush edge adjacent to the grazed pasture is a number of fine specimens of rata: Metrosideros diffusa, M. fulgens, M. perforata and the most special was carmine rata (M. carminea) which was locally common. Most carmine rata were in the open climbing up old ponga trunks intermixed with M. perforata.

Comments on selected native species

Asplenium hookerianum – both forms (A. hookerianum var. hookerianum & var. colensoi) were present at one locality growing together on a shaded trackside bank under the tall coastal broadleaf forest (Fig. 3). Leon Perrie (pers. comm.) says that it is not unusual for the two forms to grow together, although it does appear to be unusual for northern New Zealand (pers. ob.).


Blechnum ?norfolkianum – as noted by Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000) B. norfolkianum is a poorly defined species which is difficult to tell apart from large mainland forms of B. chambersii and that the two may hybridise. In one forested area on a stream bank by the walkway there were several of these large ferns with sterile fronds to 50cm long x 12.5cm across, with shorter fertile fronds 27 x 6cm (AK 296885).
Streblus heterophyllus hybrid? – occasional wild shrubs (c.1m tall) in the sparse understorey of a dense stand of 8m-tall totara. The lower leaves fiddle-shaped but too large for this species (leaf blade to 7.0cm long x 3.5cm across (Fig. 4, AK 296884)? Perhaps they are hybrids with S. banksii?

Esler & Esler (1985) commented that the area contained many alien plants which impair the value of forest reserves and then listed: hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), brush wattle (Paraserianthes lophantha), blackberry (Rubus fruticosus agg.), tree privet (Ligustrum lucidum), Chinese privet (L. sinense), wild ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum), Himalaya honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa), moth plant (Araujia sericifera), gorse (Ulex europaeus), pampas (Cortaderia selloana) and woolly nightshade (Solanum mauritianum). These are all still present today, plus many more (see Species List). However, the Friends have made weeds a high profile in the reserve with photos of target species like wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminensis), woolly nightshade, wattle, moth plant) and collection bags and bins for regular walkers to contribute – this has been partially successful. At the eastern end of the walkway by the estuary several weed species seemed to be localised in this area by what was possibly an old house site marked by two old Morton Bay fig trees (Ficus macrophylla). The weeds here included: Plectranthus ciliatus, Port St John creeper (Podranea ricasoliana) scrambling up through other vegetation to 6m high, a couple of shrubs of Fuchsia boliviana; and on patches of an exotic moss, Fissidens taxifolius, were seedlings of Queensland poplar (Homalanthus populifolius) and loquat (Eriobotrya japonica). If not managed the small patch of Carex divisa observed on the estuary margin has the potential to spread and form extensive swards.


Birds recorded during our visit: blackbird, Eastern rosella, fantail, grey warbler, harrier, Indian myna, kingfisher, NZ pigeon, silvereye, tui, pukeko, welcome swallow, pied shag, white-faced heron, and Caspian tern.

It was a delight to visit such a treasure hidden away on the side of the estuary. The local residents and Manukau City are to be congratulated in keeping development off this steep land and restoring the bush areas. The walkway is a wonderful asset which gives everyone easy access through the best forested parts and wonderful vistas.


Thanks to all on the trip for their comments; Graham Falla and Ros Nicholson for information about the area; and Alan Esler, Trudy McNie and Bec Stanley for assistance in tracking down references.


Barclay, S. 2003: The role of Environmental Monitoring in Resource Management. Unpublished Report to?

Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000 (2nd ed.): New Zealand ferns and allied plants. David Bateman, Auckland.

Cox, H. 2000: Vegetation and land use of the Mangemangeroa Catchment: the retention of natural values and environmental services. Unpublished MSc thesis, University of Auckland.

Esler, A.E.; Esler, W.R. 1985: Maungamaungaroa Creek, Manukau City – Forest on west bank. Unpublished report to Manukau City.

Manukau City Council 2006: Draft Restoration Plan for Mangemangeroa Reserve. Unpublished, Manukau City.

Riley. M. 1994: Maori healing and herbal. Viking Sevenseas N.Z. Ltd, Paraparaumu.

Stanley, R. 1998: Excerpts from Cheeseman’s Field Notebooks. Auckland Botanical Society Journal 53(2): 70-71.

Stevens, D. 1995: Vegetation Survey of the Mangemangeroa Reserve. Landcare Research report for Manukau City Council.

Vascular plant species list

EE = records from Esler & Esler (1985) – with names updated

W = addition from website (2006)

ABS = seen by Auckland Botanical Society, May 2006 (* = appears to be a new record)

DC = additional records from a Landcare Research report (Stevens 1995) – a few unlikely records have been omitted

+ = was already listed on the fieldtrip handout Species List

AK = herbarium specimens (collected by: RO Gardner, Jan 1981; AE & WR Esler, Dec 1984; RG Falla, Sep 1997; EK Cameron, May 2006)

(A) Native vascular species


Adiantum aethiopicum DS

A. cunninghamii EE, DS, ABS

A. diaphanum ABS+

A. fulvum EE, ABS

A. hispidulum EE, DS, ABS

Arthropteris tenella EE, ABS, AK

Asplenium flaccidum EE, ABS

A. gracillimum ABS*, AK (EE, DS as A. bulbiferum?)

A. hookerianum var. hookerianum EE, ABS, AK

A. hookerianum var. colensoi ABS*, AK

A. lamprophyllum EE, DS, ABS

A. oblongifolium EE, DS, ABS

A. polyodon EE, DS, ABS

Blechnum blechnoides W

B. chambersii EE, ABS

B. filiforme EE, DS, ABS

B. fluviatile W

B. membranaceum DS, ABS

B. ?norfolkianum ABS*, AK

B. novae-zelandiae EE, DS, ABS

Cyathea dealbata EE, DS, ABS

C. medullaris EE, DS, ABS

Deparia petersenii ABS+

Dicksonia squarrosa DS

Diplazium australe DS, ABS

Doodia australis EE, DS, ABS

Grammitis billardierei DS

Histiopteris incisa DS

Hymenophyllum demissum EE, DS, ABS

Lastreopsis glabella EE, DS, ABS

L. hispida DS

L. microsora EE, DS, AK

L. velutina EE, AK

Leptopteris hymenophylloides W

Lygodium articulatum W

Microsorum pustulatum EE, DS, ABS

M. scandens EE, DS, ABS

Paesia scaberula DS, ABS

Pellaea rotundifolia EE, DS, ABS

Polystichum neozelandicum EE, DS, ABS, AK

Pneumatopteris pennigera EE, DS, ABS

Pteridium esculentum EE, DS, ABS

Pteris macilenta EE, ABS

P. tremula EE, ABS

Pyrrosia eleagnifolia EE, DS, ABS

Rumohra adiantiformis W

Tmesipteris lanceolata ABS+

Dacrycarpus dacrydioides EE, DS, ABS

Dacrydium cupressinum DS

Phyllocladus trichomanoides DS

Podocarpus totara EE, ABS (DS as P. hallii?)

Alectryon excelsus EE, DS, ABS

Apium “white denticles” EE, DS, ABS*, AK

Aristotelia serrata ABS+

Avicennia marina EE, DS, ABS

Beilschmeidia tarairi EE, DS, ABS

B. tawa EE, DS, ABS

Brachyglottis repanda EE, DS, ABS*

Carmichaelia australis ABS

Carpodetus serratus EE, DS, ABS

Centella uniflora ABS*

Clematis paniculata ABS*

Coprosma arborea EE, DS, ABS

C. lucida ABS*

C. macrocarpa EE, DS, ABS, AK

C. robusta EE, DS, ABS

Corynocarpus laevigatus EE, DS, ABS

Cotula coronopifolia DS, ABS

Dysoxylum spectabile EE, DS, ABS

Elaeocarpus dentatus EE, DS

Euchiton gymnocephalus EE

Fuschia excorticata EE, DS, ABS

Geniostoma ligustrifolium EE, DS, ABS

Haloragis erecta EE, ABS

Hebe stricta EE

Hedycarya arborea EE, DS, ABS

Knightea excelsa EE, DS, ABS

Kunzea ericoides EE, DS, ABS

Laurelia novae-zelandiae ABS+

Leptospermum scoparium DS, ABS

Leucopogon fasciculatus EE, DS, ABS

Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae EE

Litsea calicaris EE, DS, ABS

Lobelia anceps DS, ABS

Macropiper excelsum EE, DS, ABS

Melicytus micranthus EE

M. ramiflorus EE, DS, ABS

Metrosideros carminea ABS+, AK

Metrosideros diffusa ABS*

M. excelsa EE, DS, ABS

M. fulgens EE, DS, ABS

M. perforata EE, DS, ABS

M. robusta ABS+

Muehlenbeckia australis DS, ABS

M. complexa EE, DS, ABS

Myrsine australis EE, DS, ABS

Nestegis lanceolata ABS*

Parsonsia heterophylla EE, DS, ABS

Persicaria decipiens ABS*

Pittosporum crassifolium ABS

P. tenuifolium ABS*

Plagianthus divaricatus EE, DS, ABS

Pseudopanax crassifolius EE, DS, ABS

P. lessonii EE, DS

Ranunculus reflexus EE, DS

Rubus cissioides EE, DS

Samolus repens EE, DS, ABS

Sarcocornia quinquefolia DS

Schefflera digitata EE, DS, ABS

Selliera radicans EE, DS, ABS

Senecio glomeratus DS

S. hispidulus DS, EE

S. minimus EE, DS

Solanum americanum EE, DS, ABS

Sophora chathamica

Sophora microphylla EE, DS, ABS

Streblus ?banksii x S. heterophyllus ABS*, AK

S. heterophyllus EE, DS

Vitex lucens EE, DS, ABS

Wahlenbergia littoricola EE, ABS

Apodasmia similis EE, DS, ABS

Astelia banksii EE, DS, ABS

Austrostipa stipoides DS

Baumea rubiginosa ABS*

Bolboschoenus fluviatilis EE, DS, ABS

B. medianus DS

Carex dissita EE, DS, ABS

C. flagellifera EE, DS, ABS

C. geminata agg. EE, DS, ABS

C. lambertiana EE, DS, ABS

C. ochrosaccus EE, DS, ABS

C. spinirostris EE, ABS

C. virgata EE, DS, ABS

Collospermum hastatum EE, DS, ABS

Cordyline australis EE, DS, ABS

C. australis x C. banksii EE, DS

Cyperus ustulatus EE, DS, ABS

Dianella nigra EE, DS

Drymoanthus adversus ABS*

Earina mucronata ABS*

Echinopogon ovatus EE

Freycinetia banksii EE, DS, ABS

Gahnia lacera EE, DS, ABS

Isolepis cernua EE, DS, ABS

Juncus edgariae EE, DS

J. kraussii EE, DS, ABS

J. pallidus DS

J. planifolius EE, DS

J. prismatocarpus DS

Libertia ixioides EE, AK

Luzula picta var. limosa DS

Microlaena stipoides EE, DS, ABS

Microtis unifolia EE

Oplismenus hirtellus EE, ABS

Phormium tenax EE, DS, ABS

Poa anceps EE, DS, ABS

Rhopalostylis sapida EE, DS, ABS

Ripogonum scandens EE, DS, ABS

Rytidosperma biannulare EE, DS

Triglochin striata EE

Uncinia uncinata EE, DS, ABS

Zostera muelleri EE, ABS, AK

(B) Adventive vascular species


Cupressus macrocarpa DS, ABS

Pinus radiata ABS*

Acacia mearnsii ABS*

Araujia sericifera EE, DS, ABS

Aster subulatus ABS*

Atriplex prostrata ABS*

Callitriche stagnalis ABS*

Calystegia sepium x C. sylvaticum EE, ABS*

Centaurium erythraea ABS*

Cestrum nocturnum ABS*

Cirsium vulgare ABS*

Crataegus monogyna EE, DS, ABS

Conyza sumatrensis ABS*

Duchesnea indica ABS*

Eriobotrya japonica ABS*, AK

Ficus macrophylla (cult.) ABS*

Fuchsia boliviana ABS*, AK

Galium aparine ABS*

Gamochaeta coarctata ABS*

Geranium homeanum ABS*, AK

Helminthotheca echioides ABS*

Homolanthus populifolius ABS*, AK

Jasminum polyanthum DS

Leycesteria formosa EE, DS, ABS

Ligustrum lucidum EE, DS, ABS

L. sinense EE, DS, ABS

Linum bienne DS

Lythrum hyssopifolia ABS*

Lotus pedunculatus DS

Lycopersicon esculentum ABS*

Mentha pulegium DS

Myosotis sylvatica ABS*

Nasturtium microphyllum EE, DS, AK

N. officinale DS, ABS

Paraserianthes lophantha EE, ABS

Pericallis x hybrida DS

Physalis peruvianum ABS*

Phytolacca octandra DS, ABS

Plantago australis DS

P. coronopus DS

Plectranthus ciliatus DS, ABS, AK

Podranea ricasoliana ABS*, AK

Prunella vulgaris ABS*

Ranunculus repens DS, ABS

Rhus succedanea ABS*, AK

Rubus fruticosus agg. EE, DS, ABS

Rumex brownii DS

R. crispus DS, ABS

R. obtusifolius ABS*

Senecio bipinnatisectus ABS*

S. esleri ABS*

S. mikanioides DS

S. skirrhodon ABS*

Silybum marianum DS

Solanum mauritianum EE, DS, ABS

S. nigrum ABS*

Sonchus oleraceus DS, ABS

Stachys sylvatica ABS*, AK

Syzygium smithii ABS*

Tropaeolum majus ABS*

Ulex europaeus EE, DS, ABS

Veronica serpyllifolia ABS*

Asparagus asparagoides ABS*

A. scandens ABS*

Carex divisa ABS*, AK

Cortaderia selloana EE, DS, ABS

Cyperus eragrostis DS, ABS

Dactylis glomerata DS, ABS

Gladiolus undulatus ABS*

Hedychium gardnerianum EE, DS, ABS

Holcus lanata DS, ABS

Juncus acuminatus DS,

J. articulatus DS, ABS

J. effusus ABS*

J. gerardii DS

Paspalum vaginatum ABS*

Pennisetum clandestinum ABS*

Schedonorus phoenix DS, ABS

Tradescantia fluminensis DS, ABS

Zantedeschia aethiopicum ABS*

Fig. 1. Location of Manngemangeroa Reserve, near Howick.

Fig. 2. Seven vegetation zones of the Mangemangeroa Reserve – from the Restoration Plan (Manukau City 2006).
Fig. 3. Both forms of Asplenium hookerianum: A. hookerianum var. hookerianum & var. colensoi(more finely dissected) growing together on a shaded bank.
Fig. 4. Streblus heterophyllus hybrid? – leaves too large for this species?

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