September 2015: Newsletter 372

August Day Meeting

The weather gods were not particularly kind to us for our visit to Te Teko and Whakatane, as we had pretty consistent rain. But at Pottering About Jim had plenty of shelter for us to have our cuppa and to roam around his expansive collection of orchid plants. It was very pleasing to see so many Club members had made the effort with conditions as they were.

Jim’s orchid houses are packed with so many potted seedlings and plants you need to talk to him and then go exploring. There are hundreds of treasures tucked away on the endless benches, so it is not what to take, but what to leave behind. The endless frosts have been a real problem for Jim this year and he has had to cut right back on watering to try and save his plants.

tree orchid1

Photo: Barry Curtis

He enjoys attaching orchids to the trees outside but some orchids 5 metres up in the trees have been wiped out by the frosts. Luckily, many had survived and were looking amazingly happy, naturalising themselves among the branches. Perhaps more of us should give this a try around our own properties.

After making our purchases and thanking Jim for having us for the morning, we drove into suburban Whakatane to Andy’s home. It was rather a surprise to find such a professional orchid house filling the back half of his section. What a vista of colour greeted us as we stepped inside to find we were surrounded by beautiful Cymbidiums in flower.

andy price

One of Andy Price’s many beautiful Cymbidiums. Photo: Barry Curtis

Most commercial Cymbidium houses are locked into rows and rows of the same colour, to provide cut stems for export, but Andy’s house is a riot of colour as he grows potted plants for sale. His constant ‘in-pot feeding’ provides magnificent long stems of beautiful flowers.

To produce this annual turnover of flowering plants Andy has benches covered in growing seedlings in a succession of years and sizes. These cymbidiums are watered very regularly by hose, with fertiliser being added to the water.

August Evening Meeting

Present: 27 members.

Club member Bob Mankelow, who has spent much of his life helping people recognise native plants and use bush craft skills to survive, was our speaker and talked about the medicinal properties of native plants. Bob had brought along a range of native leaves and proceeded to give us a highly amusing talk explaining how each of the plants could be used to remedy common health problems.

Manuka or Tea Tree: Leaves were brewed by Captain Cook for tea and beer, but Bob suggest chewing on a few old seed pods if you are constipated and want to get things on the move. Lately manuka has been found to contain a compound that acts as an insecticide and its essential oils are used in perfume and soap making.

Rangiora: Bushman’s friend. The large soft leaves are perfect as a toilet paper substitute, note paper and can be used to cover wounds. The collected gum was poisonous, but could be chewed (but never swallowed) to cure bad breath. The leaves are poisonous to stock.

Koromiko or Hebe: The tender ends of leaves can be chewed to prevent stomach aches and treat diarrhoea. The leaves can also be used to treat heat rash or nappy rash.

Pate or Seven Finger: The sap can be used to cure ringworm and the leaves applied externally treat athlete’s foot, being very anti-fungal.

Kawakawa: Seeping a leaf in hot water provides a tonic drink. Chewing on the leaves alleviates tooth ache and rubbing the leaves over bare skin keeps sand flies away. But the plant also contains a compound that can kill insects. Maori would set fire to wet leaves and branches laid out alongside their kumara beds and the smoke would kill off insects.

This is just a selection from Bob’s talk, but if you are interested in more information, the books Which Native Tree? and Which Native Fern? by Andrew Crowe, have common uses for all the native plants. Rongoa Maori, Medicinal Native Plants of New Zealand is an online resource listing every plant you could think of (pdf, 1.16MB).

Popular Vote

Helen McDonald: Lyc. Murasakino 1st
Laelia lundii 2nd

Barry Curtis: Odcdm. Dorothy Wisnom x Oda. City of Birmingham 3rd

Elizabeth Bailey: Pterostylis Nodding Grace.

Conrad Coenen: Fdk. After Dark ‘Morning After’ x Ctsm. Pileatum ‘Green Gold’.

Display Plants

(* = correct &/or new name [ ] = not identified)

Barry Curtis: Den. Benezuru Treasure; Slc. Medley x walkeriana; Slc. Red Jewel ‘Kumeu’ x C. Angelwalker; Paph. Coromandel Gold; Paph. British Concorde; Paph. no name; Onc. Tsiku Marguerite *.

Brian & Natalie Simmonds: Den. Colonial Surprise x Yondi Star.

Conrad Coenen: Paph. Burki x sukhakulii; Cym. Maluka ‘Brilliant’; Cym. Valley Torch ‘Brown Sugar’; Lc. Mini Purple; Masd. caesia; Pterostylis Nodding Grace; Dockrilla teretifolium ‘Silver Delight’ x ‘Convolg…? Red’; Fdk.(= Fredclarkeara) After Dark ‘Morning After’ x Catasetum pileatum ‘Green Gold’ * .

Helen McDonald: Lyc. No name; Lc. Cariad’s Mini-Quinee ‘Angel Kiss’ Laelia lundii.

Elizabeth Bailey: Masd. abbreviata; Masd. hymenantha*; Masd.Angel Frost x mejiana (= Masd. Mejifrost*); Masd. Lemon Meringue; Masd Angel frost; Pterostylis Nodding Grace.

Sandra Simpson: Den. Peewee x Gai Ellen; Restrepia striata; Lc. Ernest Renan ‘Olga’.

John Edwards: Coelogyne cristata; Maxillaria variabilis; Restrepia guttulata; Oncidium Gold Dust.