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White Rata in Stuart Park
Around 5 plants of Metrosideros Perforata can be found on the cliffs in Stuart Park - hiding away from the goats on the cliffs.
Vine up to 20 m (rarely more long). Bark furrowed, dark grey to brown-black, ± tessellated, and flaking in tabular shards. Growth dimorphic, juvenile and climbing vines sparingly branched, mature (adult - reproductive state) heavily branched. Branchlets terete, ± invested in short dark brown setose hairs. Leaves close-set, coriaceous, glandular punctate (this especially evident on abaxial surface) subsessile; petioles 1.0-3.2 mm long, lamina 6-12 × 5-9 mm, broad-ovate, broad-oblong to suborbicular, obtuse, adaxially dark green, ± glabrous, abaxially very pale green; finely setose; margins recurved. Inflorescences in axillary few-flowered cymose botryia, these crowded towards apex of branchlets; peduncles and pedicels pubescent to setose; peduncles 10-40 mm long, pedicels 5-10 mm. Hypanthium broad-turbinate, initially fleshy, finely tomentose ± glabrescent; calyx lobes broadly deltoid, obtuse; petals caducous, 1.5-3.0 × 1.5-2.8 mm, suborbicular, white or pink; stamens numerous, 8-10 mm long, white (rarely pink). Capsule 4-5 mm diameter, 3-valved, subglobose, exserted, ± woody.
Easily distinguished from all other indigenous Metrosideros by the small rounded "spotted" (glandular-punctate) leaves, which are dark green above and pale green below (the spotting is most evident on the leaf undersides), and by the dense clusters of white flowers. In its juvenile state it may be confused with juvenile vines of Metrosideros carminea. However, the young growth of Metrosideros carminea is distinctly pinkish and the leaf hairs are much longer and pink coloured. Despite the common name "white rata" Metrosideros perforata is not closely related to Metrosideros albiflora, which is a species virtually confined to northern New Zealand kauri (Agathis australis) forest, and which has much larger leaves (without obvious glandular spotting) and fewer, larger inflorescences.
ref. Plant Conservation website. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/