Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A dry summer in Wellington.

I haven't blogged here for a couple of years. I've been busy doing other things, mostly with a camera, and I'll have more to say about that in good time.

It's been a warm and dry summer in Wellington. Until Christmas it was cool, even cold, but since the beginning of January it's been much warmer than usual and very dry. Warmer than usual in Wellington isn't what most people would call warm, but daytime temperatures have stayed in the mid-20s for weeks and some nights have been uncomfortably warm. We had a shower of rain, briefly, about three weeks ago, and the last one before that was probably two weeks prior. That's pretty unusual round here, and our plants aren't used to it.
Pate, Schefflera digitata. The leaves aren't really wilting, but the swollen pulvinus at the petiole base has lost turgor, making the leaves hang down
I went for a walk yesterday to look for pigeon-wood fruit (Hedycarya arborea) in the Birdwood Reserve near the Zealandia sanctuary. The understory was very dry and many plants were wilting noticeably.
Coprosma grandifolia wilting badly
Everywhere, the soil was dry and dusty. But the wilting was most intense on the little ridges that run down the steep valley sides (this valley runs along the Wellington Fault). Interestingly, out in the open, some of the same plants showed no wilting at all. Maybe those ones are acclimated to dry conditions.
Hangehange (Genisotoma ligustrifolium) leaves are dull and wilted.
What's going on? Is this global climate change?
These fern (Microsorum pustulatum) leaves were dull and wilted, with a slightly silvery sheen.
It might be, but this year is also a very strong El Nino year. Of course the strength of the El Nino might itself be due to climate change. But in general, it's tricky to extrapolate from an extreme weather event like a hot or cold day, or even a hot or cold season, to overall long term climate trends. If we don't allow people to say a snow-storm is evidence that climate change isn't happening, we shouldn't allow people to say a heat wave is evidence that it is.
Kawakawa (Piper excelsum) starting to wilt. The leaves have curled and are hanging down.

However, long term trends show pretty clearly that the climate is getting warmer almost everywhere, and it seems that last year, and this one so far, are way warmer than even that trend would have predicted. You'd have to be pretty out of touch not to have seen the evidence in the form of temperature graphs in the news or on line.

Anyway, locally and for now the good news is that today the rain is here, and it's cold. I don't know if this rain is a drought-breaker, but with the cooler seasons approaching I guess we can expect more of it.

Did I find pigeonwood in fruit? Yes, thanks; I did.
Pigeonwood (Hedycarya arborea) fruits.

How long will it be before I start complaining about the rain and cold?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Phil. I've stumbled across your blog while googling for folks who have experience in urban foraging or run courses in the Wellington area. It seems you have some knowledge in this area and i was wondering if you would consider doing a little bit of teaching. possibly a walk around locations in wellington where you can identify edible plants. I'm just a university student in my 20's interested in learning about the edible plants of NZ. I currently have basically zero knowledge in this area so any knowledge is really valuable to me. I'm happy to pay for your knowledge if you're keen :) Cheers. Geoff White