Who’da thunk it!! A survey carried out among hundreds, no THOUSANDS of ‘plant enthusiasts’ has identified an almost unknown bit of New Zealand flora as the country’s “Plant Of The Year”. The ‘bamboo rush‘ was the popular choice. Interesting, given that the plant has lost 95% of its natural range, and as a consequence I would be skeptical that a majority of the people polled would have actually seen the plant in the wild! Of course I may well be mistaken and thousands of people have walked the shrunken wetlands of the Waikato and become friends with this popular plant. And after all I would probably vote for someone or something without actually having met them or it!
Be that as it may, if I had been contacted I’m quite certain there would have been a bunch of natives that would have been higher up the list than the bamboo rush. I don’t think the silver fern would necessarily been ahead on my list, either given that wetlands are arguable a more interesting and populated place to be in than your average patch of bush in which the silver fern grows. Don’t get me wrong- I love ‘the bush‘ and am able to find something of interest at every turn of the trail, but sit still in either place and I’m sure you’ll have more visitors in wetlands than you will have in ‘the bush’.So what would be the criteria of selection for a “plant of the year”? Is it purely an aesthetic thing- is this plant more pleasing to the eye than that plant? Is it to do with beneficial properties- is this plant a cure for this and that? Is it to do with their usefulness -is this plant best for making or building? Is it because they are a more popular habitat -how many species live on, in or under it? I don’t know the answer to that so I guess I can’t argue TOO loudly against the selection of the rush as our plant for 2011 but I will continue in my belief that the chosen bamboo rush would not be the popular choice of mainstream New Zealand.
I may be wrong, I was, once in the past- I thought I was wrong, but I was wrong.