Red & green - Kaka beak (kowhai ngutukaka) and shotgun conservation

Red and green stand for "stop" and "go" - pretty much the state of affairs for the attractive NZ native shrub, Clianthus maximus or Clianthus puniceus, known as the kaka beak or kowhai ngutukaka because the shape of the flowers evokes the beak shape of the kaka, a New Zealand parrot.  Red light - even though it is enjoyed as a garden plant, the survival of the kaka beak in the wild is seriously threatened.  Green light - people are trying to save it.  The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust (click to find out more) have come up with some creative tactics - and the use of shotguns is not for killing anything, but to access otherwise inaccessible places, away from the pests who find this shrub so palatable.

At Otari Native Botanic Garden here in Wellington there are many kaka beak plants and they are out in full splendour.  In dappled shade, the low spreading branches of this plant are fresh with bright green leaves and heavy with dangling crimson flowers.

Out in a brightly-lit open space more red and green is to be seen - at the back on a trellis fence covered with kaka beak and in the foliage of small shrubs framing another kaka beak plant.  The spear-like silvery leaves of the Astelias provide a sharp contrast.

Some people think New Zealand native plants are dull - maybe they just aren't looking.