Topic: Water Race flowers on State Highway 73

Topic type:

The name and origin of the flowers growing in the water races.

Thanks to the dozens of folks who responded to our request for information about the distinctive red and pink flowers growing along the water race at the side of State Highway 73. Most were in agreement that they were Schizostylis coccinea conmmonly referred to as Kaffir Lilies. Many commented that it is a hardy perennial from Africa and comes in both a red and pink varieties. It enjoys being near water and spreads freely. Garden centres often stock an improved large pink and white variety,

Marilyn Voice of Aylesbury remembers the flowers from the 1950's and writes:

In the 1950's my late brother-in-law was cleaning the Paparua race where the lilies were growing and he bought some clumps home to his mother. Mrs Voice planted them at her gate. The lilies multiplied and made a beautiful display, and still do as long as they aren't sprayed. In the 1960's I planted the pale pink and a few of the red lilies, at the Aylesbury corner outside our home at that time. ..... I have also heard a
reference to them being the lily that was found on the Batvia Coast of Western Australia, after a ship from South Africa was wrecked there.

Bewick Rowell of Hororata wrote,.........The flower, which grows along the sides of ungrazed waterways in many parts of Central Canterbury east of Aylesbury, is Schizostylis coccinea. A herbaceous perennial with rhizomatous roots and narrow, grassy leaves, it belongs in the iris family, Iridaceae, and originated in Africa, where it occurs naturally in black turf at streamsides in the eastern Cape Province, Natal, Transvaal, and the Drakensburg Mountains of South Africa.

In South Africa its is commonly known as "kaffir lily" or "river lily". Schizostylis coccinea has a long history in cultivation and almost certainly entered the wild state in New Zealand as material discarded from a garden. It was first recorded growing wild alongside the Malvem water race in 1945 but was probably established much earlier. It is also naturalised on the West Coast and in Nelson, Marlborough, and parts of the North Island. Like many waterside plants, Schizostylis has seeds with a corky coat that enables them to spread by floating downstream. Seeds are probably also spread on race-cleaning machinery.

Malvern News 13 May 2005

 

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Water Race flowers on State Highway 73 by Selwyn Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License