On Christmas Day on my way to Toka Biv, I stopped near the top of Knights Track to photograph this flowering Gaultheria. The usual common name for this little subalpine shrub is snowberry, but many years ago I heard another name. A friend had worked for what was then the New Zealand Forest Service and had spent the summer working on various aspects of protection forestry — what we'd now call conservation. He'd got to know many native plants but had almost been fooled by the resemblance of Gaultheria to seedlings of some of the southern beeches (Nothofagus).
He laughed, and pointed to the little snowberry. 'The foresters,' he said, 'call this "trainee beech".'
All content © 2014 Pete McGregor