(Unranked): Core eudicots
Species: G. hamiltonii
Binomial name: Gunnera hamiltonii
Gunnera hamiltonii is one of the rarest plants native to New Zealand. It naturally has a very limited distribution and is only found on the coasts of Southland and Stewart Island. There are six separate natural plants found at four locations. Five plants exist on Stewart Island and one on the Southland coast. Although each known population is only a single plant, they extend via underground rhizomes and cover a large area and they maintain themselves vegetatively. Natural fertilisation of these plants is now difficult as the male and female plants are separate. Its natural habitat is damp sand dune hollows near the sea. It’s so rare it doesn’t have a common name, but was named after W.S. Hamilton from Southland.
Gunnera hamiltonii is a small, creeping herbaceous plant which grows in flat rosettes. The small stiff spear dark green to reddish brown are 2 to 7 cm long. Male and female flowers form on separate plants. The small green female flowers form in the centre of the rosette, close to ground while the male pollen spikes grow to about 2-3 cm tall. The tiny female flowers are followed by red or orange berries in the autumn.
Gunnera hamiltonii is easy to grow in cultivation and is sold by specialised nurseries.
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