W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso



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Order 7. Liliaceæ.

Genus 5. Astelia, Banks and Solander.


Astelia polyneuron,777 n. sp.

A middle-sized species, few-leaved and not bushy; epiphytical.



Male Plant: Leaves spreading drooping sub-coriaceous, 4.9–5 feet long, linear-lanceolate very acuminate acute, 1¼ inch wide at middle, largely sub-recurved, dark green, glabrous on upper surface, canescent-tomentose below with fine white closely adpressed hairs, possessing (under a lens) a minutely and regularly dotted appearance, 1½ inch wide at base and there densely clothed with long straight white hair, deeply furrowed on [334] each side of the mid-rib, mid-rib keeled, ciliated at edges and on mid-rib below with longish white hairs, 12-nerved longitudinally, nerves white clear and parallel: scape, sub-flexuous, pendulous, 16 inches long, obtusely trigonous, very stout, thickest and more angular at top, shaggy throughout with dense white floccose cottony wool, particularly at base, and bearing a branched loose panicle 9 inches long, composed, below, of 5 symmetrical alternate sub-panicles, the lowermost one having 4 racemes, and each of the upper four 3 racemes, 6–2 inches long springing from one base or short peduncle, the middle raceme of each sub-panicle always the longest, and each of the five with a single leafy sessile bract at its base, the lowermost bract being 2 feet long and 8 lines wide at the base, rather suddenly widening at 3 inches from base to 1¼ inch, and 10-nerved; the next bract 14 inches long, and both lanceolate and very acumimate from the widest part, light-green and glabrous above; the remaining three bracts small; above, the panicle is composed of five single alternate bractless racemes; racemes, smaller bracts, peduncles, pedicels and bracteoles densely clothed with silky hairs: flowers numerous, free, scattered on long pedicels; pedicels 3 lines long and bracteolate; bracteoles linear, as long as pedicels, reddish: perianth glabrous, light-green with a dash of yellow, each segment bearing a reddish central stripe on the outside, stellate, ½ inch diameter; segments free to base, nearly equal, sub-recurved; sepals larger, ovate-lanceolate, sub-acuminate, with a slight protuberance a little way in from the tip; petals narrower obtuse: filaments long, slender, spreading: anthers oblong, obtuse, almost circular after bursting.

Female plant smaller in all its parts than the male plant; leaves 2 feet 3 inches—2 feet 6 inches long, ¾ inch broad at the middle, and only 8–10-nerved: scape as in the male, but straight and shorter, 8–9 inches long: bracts as in the male, but smaller; the lowermost 14–17 inches long, and 6-nerved; the next one 3½ inches long, the other three small: panicle erect, 7 inches long, free; composed below of three alternate subpanicles, each containing three racemes of flowers springing from one base or peduncle; and above, of five single racemes, the upper two being without bracts: flowers as in male, but smaller, with shorter pedicels and bracteoles, which are white: perianth greenish-yellow, scented, densely clothed on the outside with silky hairs: segments spreading, not recurved, and broader than those of the male plant: style short, stout: stigma sessile, trifid, very obtuse, smooth: ovary globose, red, succulent (like a small red currant when fully ripe, and of the same colour), very slightly marked from top downwards with three angular furrows: anthers (infertile) very small, oblong, narrow, obtuse, just appearing from under the ovary, and closely embracing it. [335]

Hab.—In dense forests near the head of the river Manawatu, North Island; epiphytical on living trees, at no great height from the ground; 1880–1881; flowering in December.

This species of Astelia is very distinct from all our known New Zealand (and other described) species; still, in some respects, it has affinity with Hamelinia veratroides of A. Richard, (a New Zealand species of this genus), judging from his copious description of the female plant of that species and his botanical drawing of the same;778 which species Dr. Sir Joseph Hooker has placed with a doubt, under Astelia cunninghamii, in his “Handbook of the New Zealand Flora;” but I do not thing it will be found to belong to it. Indeed I think that A. Richard’s plant,779 (collected in New Zealand by D’Urville and Lesson) has not been subsequently detected in this country. A. Cunningham, in his “Precursor of the Botany of New Zealand,” placed it under A. banksii, as a synonym of that species; I doubt, however, if Cunningham ever gathered it.



Astelia spicata,780 n. sp.

Plant small, cæspitose, sub-grass-like, throwing out many young ones from axils of lower leaves; epiphytical on the lower bare branches of trees, and on prostrate trees and logs, forming small thick tufts. Leaves thickish, spreading, 6–9 inches long, 3–7 lines wide, sessile, much dilated at base and clasping, linear-elongate, acuminate, distichous, falcate, light-green, almost glaucous, slightly keeled, glabrous above but slightly scurfy and margined (above) with a narrow silvery shining line of closely adpressed hairs, hoary below, much as in A. polyneuron (supra), obscurely 6-nerved, striated, and with short transverse veins near base, and finely ciliated with white hairs at margins, and on midrib below: scape (female) erect, 2 inches long, cylindrical, succulent, and (together with pedicels) clothed with fine and closely adpressed silky white hairs; spike 1½ inches long, bearing 25–30 flowers; the lowermost four, however, are distant from each other and pedicelled, each one of them is also singly bracteated with a long leaf-like lanceolate bract, the lowermost one being 3 inches long; the upper flowers are subsessile, clustered in a dense cylindrical obtuse spike; a few only of the lower ones are free on very short pedicels, each one having a subulate reddish bracteole, 6–9 lines long, hanging downwards from its base: perianth free half-way down, white, shining, very membraneous, semi-transparent; lobes long, oblong-ovate, obtuse, thickened at tips, and one-nerved, at first completely enclosing the ovary, though open and gaping at the sides; afterwards they are wholly recurved from the centre of the same, which is still embraced closely below by the tube, when the whole assumes [336] a light-brown scarious appearance: ovary large for the plant, ovate obtuse, succulent, green, slightly marked above with three sutures: style, 0: stigma sessile, trifid, finely penicillate and spreading: anthers (infertile) opposite segments, long and linear, almost subulate.

Hab.—In the forests about Kopua and Norsewood, North Island, 1878–1881: flowering in December. Often found in a leafing state on trees and logs, but perfect specimens are rarely met within reach. This, however, in those parts, is mainly owing to the settlers’ cattle, which seem very fond of this plant, apparently preferring it to much other good green food around.

This is an interesting little species, by far the smallest of all the epiphytical ones of this genus; and, indeed, the smallest of all our known New Zealand ones, save the smaller alpine one (A. linearis), found by me on the summits of the Ruahine mountain range;781 and by Dr. Sir Jos. Hooker in Auckland and Campbell Islands. This species is so very distinct, that (although I have not yet detected a perfect male plant) I have ventured to describe it from the female ones. Some leafing states of it remind one at first sight of a large species of Luzula.



Class III. Cryptogamia.


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