The season of the kowhai

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Spring. Tui feasting on kowhai flower nectar. Image; Su Leslie 2019

Amongst all the flowers that burst forth in Spring, the one that speaks most clearly of the season in Aotearoa New Zealand is the kowhai.

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Image: Su Leslie

Kowhai (eight species of tree within the genus Sophora) are native to this country. Unlike many NZ natives, kowhai are semi-deciduous, making their spring-time transformation even more spectacular. Unusually too, kowhai flowers appear before the new leaves.

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Kowhai flowers. Image: Su Leslie

Kowhai is the Maori word for yellow, and the plant has great significance; practically and culturally. Infusions of kowhai bark were used in traditional Maori medicine to treat a huge range of ailments from dandruff to knitting together broken bones. It was even given as a (fairly dramatic) cure for constipation.

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Kowhai flowers. Image: Su Leslie

These days, the medicinal use of Kowhai is not recommended, as it’s known that the plant contains cytsine, an alkeloid common in several species within the legume family. It is similar to nicotine and, in humans, can cause headaches, breathing difficulties and in large doses — death.

Other animals are clearly not affected; kowhai flower nectar is a favourite food of the native Korimako, Kaka and Tui.  One of the great springtime pleasures is watching and listening to Tui in a kowhai tree.

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Tui in a kowhai tree. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Tui in a kowhai tree. Image: Su Leslie 2019

If you’d like to know what Tui’s sound like, this video‘s good and has footage of Kereru (wood pigeon) and Tauhou (wax-eye)

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | Spring

Friday Flowers

The Changing Seasons, October 2019

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Kakabeak seedling No. 1. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I just looked back over my past few Changing Seasons posts, and this will be the third consecutive month I’ve talked about how cold and rainy and windy it’s been.

Consequently, once again I haven’t strayed far from home, and have taken very few photos. The silver lining though is that I’ve spent time extra working on the horticulture course I’m taking and have passed the first paper.

If I had to sum October up, I’d say it’s been a growing month. Lots of the seeds I’ve planted have germinated — including a second kakabeak. New plants that we’ve been able to shelter are thriving and we should be able to pick the first tomatoes quite soon. My gardening knowledge has grown, and with it my confidence.

I’d still really like some sunshine soon though. Especially as I’m off to New Plymouth tomorrow to explore the Taranaki Garden Festival and Sustainable Backyard Trail.

So apologies in advance if I’m a little slow to update the Changing Seasons blogroll. With luck I’ll be filling my brain with free-range, sustainably grown, nutrient-dense ideas (and my tummy with yummy produce).

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Jude at Life at the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful\

A Wonderful Sheep

Donna at DJ Ranch

Brian at Bushboys World

And a huge welcome to …

Amy at The world in a Book

Tatiana at Travelways

Margaret at From Pyrenees to Penines

Horse Addict

… all of whom are joining us for the first time this month.

 

Friday flowers

Yuzu blossom and fruit bud. Image: Su Leslie 1019

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. — Michael Pollan