Plant phenology

Phenology bibliography
Existing phenology data
Phenology databases
New phenology observations
Non-native phenology
Phenology Methods

New Zealand fruiting and flowering plants

There are about 1896 native species in the New Zealand flora that produce seeds of some sort.  New Zealand boast 20 Gymnosperms (like kauri and kahikatea), and the Angiosperms have 552 monocotyledonous species (like grasses and orchids) and 1324 dicotyledonous species.(1)

Phenology is the study of the timing of fruiting, flowering and bud-break in plants (although I have seen a lot of invertebrate references have also adopted the term). 

A whole range of natural cycles are triggered or controlled by these events; such as breeding initiation in kakapo and kereru, major changes in mouse, rat and stoat densities, and successful establishment of translocated animal species at new sites.

It is hoped that some of the fluctuations can be predicted by making correlations with weather.  We already know that Chionochloa (tussock) and Nothofagus (beech) species are more or less in synchrony throughout NZ and are most likely to have heavy seed crops one year after a warm summer.  Chionochloa responding mainly to January or Jan-Feb temperatures and Nothofagus to Jan-Mar or Jan-Apr temperatures.  Critical floral induction thresholds vary between sites.  Rimu is out of step with the Chionachloa-Nothofagus group.  It seeds heavily two years after a cool summer, especially if the summer just before seedfall is warm.  Matai, miro and totara seem to be broadly in step with rimu, but kahikatea is out of step with rimu(2) .

I know from personal experience that tawa masts about every 6 years but we are not sure of the triggers for that yet.  Kohekohe is affected by rain during flowering and fruit ripening by temperature.  So by monitoring phenology and climate we might be able to solve some of these puzzles.  However we need long term data set to firm up these relationship

The reason for setting up a phenology list (contact Astrid Dijkgraaf at the Department of Conservation) is so that we can get a better idea of how phenology for different species hangs together.  If we can pick up on more of these sorts of patterns and refine them we might be able to target management better, e.g. intensive predator control timed to be carried out just prior to mast fruiting /seeding events will promote intensive breeding by certain species (kaka, kereru, kakariki, etc) in order to promote nesting success.  Why waste $s doing predator control to promote nesting success when little or no nesting is likely to occur.

These pages will hopefully begin to gather together current references and databases that deal with, or include information about the fruiting and flowering patterns of native trees.  The bibliography, by no means complete, covers a range of topics beside fruiting and flowering patterns such

Germination experiments
Timing of bud break and leaf fall
Fruit characteristics, including nutritional components
Aspects that affect the dispersal of fruits

Some of the references on the phenology bibliography page are duplicated on the native foods bibliography or pest species foods bibliography pages,  This is unavoidable since the references often deal with several of these issues in one paper or report.

Please if you have any references, data or observation in addition to those that you found on these pages please write to Astrid van Meeuwen-Dijkgraaf.



(1) Wilton, A.D.; Breitwieser, I. (2000)  Composition of the New Zealand seed plant flora.  New Zealand Journal of Botany 38(4): 537-549.  Web update:  1 September 2000.  Version: Cronquist. Visit Composition of the New Zealand Seed Plant Flora

(2) Lee, W. G., Dijkgraaf, A. C. and Kelly, D. (1997). "Monitoring key food species of kakapo and predicting mast seed years." Landcare Research, Dunedin, Contract Research Report, LC9798/028.