Monday, 28 November 2011

The 25th Anniversary of The Norfolk Island National Park.

In this issue Norfolk Island Post  issued  4 postage stamps to celebrate 25 years of the Norfolk Island National Park on June 24, 2011. Four endangered endemic plant species are featured in this issue, which recognises the years of hard work by the park rangers and conservation volunteers. The featured species are the Norfolk Abutilon, Hibiscus Insularis, the Popwood, the Broad Leaf Meryta.

Nat. Parks 25 Years Conservation Seta
 The 25¢ stamp  features the Norfolk Abutilon, Abutilon julianae . This low growing plant was rediscovered on Phillip island in 1985.  Along with other species in imminent danger of extinction the Abutilon plants propagated from this single plant have been actively planted back on Norfolk Island.

In rehabilitation works around the parks and gardens, this Abutilon should not be confused with the Common Abutilon A grandiflorum which also grows on Norfolk but is a weed and grows into a shrub, where this endemic variety is more like a ground cover in habit. 

Nat. Parks 25 Years Conservation Setb
The 60¢ stamp features the Phillip Island Hibiscus ,Hibiscus insularis. This lovely plant is now found naturally occurring only on Phillip Island, an uninhabited Island 8km south of Norfolk.
Through propagation it is now fairly widespread as a hardy garden plant.

If grown from seed, in it's juvenile stages the leaves are small and round, constantly changing with the years and unrecognisable as a hibiscus until circa 5-10 years old. As flowering only begins when it's adult foliage is produced (11-16 years old) the plant is mostly propagated by cuttings if the desire is for the ornamental flowering specimen.
This hibiscus is special in that it has smaller leaves and flowers, (only a third to half the size of normal hibiscii) the flowers start off cream-green and morph yellow and orange with age until they reach pink-maroon.

Nat. Parks 25 Years Conservation Setc

The $1.55 stamp features the Popwood, Myoporum obscurum. These rather pretty Trees have shiny pointed leaves often with a black tip,an attractive rounded shape and useful in partly exposed positions. their pretty white flowers are dabbed with mauve-cerise spots and small upstanding hairs on the petals.

With the increase in competition from weeds and presence of grazing cattle, Popwood numbers were reduced to less than 20 in the 1980's. Thankfully they are now out of the woods and on the road to recovery being planted like the others in the park rehabilitation and gardens as ornamentals again.

Nat. Parks 25 Years Conservation Setd

Lastly the $2.25 stamp features Broad Leaf Meryta,  Meryta latifolia . The population  was reduced to around 20 female plants at one time. This plant is dioecious (has separate male and female plants) so both sexes need to be close to enable viable seeds.

These plants are now popular garden plants both in private and public gardens. Their very large and attractive shiny leaves , were used in convict days wrapping dough for bread baking.

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