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Chordospartium stevensonii C. stevensonii


Modern name

Chordospartium stevensonii Cheeseman

An almost leafless shrub or small tree, the latter occasionally 20 to 30 ft high, with a trunk 6 to 8 in. in diameter and slender pendulous branches. Young shoots long, slender, scarcely branched, 116 to 112 in. in diameter, minutely ribbed, not downy. Leaves are borne only on young plants and then persist only three or four months. Racemes cylindrical, 112 to 312 in. long, 58 in. wide, sometimes solitary, sometimes in clusters of two to five; on these the flowers are closely packed a score or so to the inch. Flowers pea-flower-shaped, 13 in. long, pale lilac, with darker lines on the standard petal; calyx and flower-stalks covered densely with a pale wool. Pod indehiscent, about 15 in. long, carrying a single seed. Bot. Mag., t. 9654.

Native of the South Island of New Zealand, confined to alluvial soils on the tributaries of the Clarence, Awatere, and Waitau Rivers; discovered in 1909 in the Seaward Kaikoura Range at 1,500 to 2,500 ft, near the mouth of the first-named river. Seed was sent to Kew in 1923 but it has never thrived there. The most suitable localities for cultivating this shrub are sunny spots on or near the south coast from Sussex westward. Mr Hillier, who had a good specimen in his private garden near Romsey, tells us that it is probably not long-lived in this country. His tree reached a height of about 7 ft and a spread of 4 or 5 ft, and was very striking in July when covered with its rosy-lilac flowers. The species was given an Award of Merit when shown from Exbury in 1943.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

This is now an endangered species, which no longer reproduces itself in the few stands that remain in the northeastern corner of South Island. It has produced fertile seed in Mr Hutchins’ garden at Hornchurch in Essex, and he cautions that the seedlings look brown and lifeless for two years or more (G. Hutchins, New Zealand Plants (1980), p. 15).



Other species in the genus

[No species article available]