Nest epiphytes or perching lilies grow as great clumps of foliage on the branches of taller trees. From a distance they look like the nests of great birds. Nest epiphytes often support other perching plants. Here Huperzia varium, a lycophyte, dangles from the base of some nest epiphytes in the Akatarawa forest near Wellington.
Of New Zealand’s three nest epiphytes, kowharawhara (Astelia solandri) is the most widely distributed. It grows in lowland forest in the North Island and western South Island. Kahakaha (Collospermum hastatum) is restricted to lowland and coastal forests of the North Island and northern South Island. Its close relative C. microspermum grows only in the North Island, usually above 300 metres altitude.
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Photograph by Maggy Wassilieff
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