Threatened Plants

Why are many of our most charismatic native garden plants, like kakabeak and Chatham Island forget-me-not, threatened with extinction in the wild?

Kakabeak - a nationally threatened plant.Kakabeak - a nationally threatened plant.New Zealand has 2,363 species of indigenous plants. Of these, over 30% are threatened or uncommon. Most of New Zealand’s threatened plants are endemic, meaning they are not naturally found anywhere else in the world. Find out more about some of the threatened plants in Southland.

New Zealand’s threatened plants

According to the NZ Plant Conservation Network, 1944 (82%) of New Zealand’s 2,363 species are endemic to New Zealand. This high degree of endemism is one of the reasons New Zealand has been identified by Conservation International as being a “Centre of Plant Diversity” and world diversity hotspot. Unfortunately a high level of endemism means that many of our plants are vulnerable to extinction.

Threats to our plants

Many of New Zealand’s threatened plants have become at risk of extinction in the wild due to a combination of the following:

  • Habitat loss due to destruction and/or degradation.
  • Browsing and grazing by introduced animals.
  • Encroachment of invasive weeds.

Threatened plants in Southland

Fragrant tree daisy - Olearia fragrantissima.Fragrant tree daisy - Olearia fragrantissima.There are 300 nationally threatened plants in Southland in the categories Nationally Critical, Nationally Endangered, Nationally Vulnerable, Declining, Conservation Dependent and Nationally Uncommon. Another 17 species are in a category called “Data Deficient” meaning that their status is unknown. The nationally threatened plants found in Southland are all considered at risk from extinction.

Southland’s Nationally threatened plants come in many forms – trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants and grasses. They also occur in a wide range of habitats, including:

  • lowland forests
  • riparian (riverside) and wetlands
  • sand dunes and coastal
  • high mountains.

Most of our threatened plants are at risk from the factors listed above. However, some are also endemic to Southland (only found here) and many have very specialised habitat requirements or grow in particular soils.

Studying threatened plants is a specialised area but there are books and resources to help you learn more about them and to assist in their recovery. Learn about some of the more notable Southland Threatened plants below:

Find out more

See many of Southland’s threatened plants by visiting the Southland Threatened Plant Garden. Contact us to make an appointment.

If you want to learn more about Southland’s Threatened Plants, check out the entire list - it is ordered by botanical name (many species are too rare to have ever been given a common name) and you can look up the details for each species through the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN) website.