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Precarious ecosystem of New Zealand plants atop 800-year-old Rimu

From a pesky but pretty weed resident in New Zealand for 50 years (last week's offering), to a towering tree estimated to be 800 years old. This 35-metre-tall Rimu is also home to a forest within the forest.

Rewi Elliot, Manager of Otari-Wilton Bush - where I saw and photographed this Rimu - told me there are likely to be 15-20 different plant species living as epiphytes in this giant conifer. (You can hear Rewi say this, and more, on a ABC RN Blueprint for Living podcast.)

Some, such as an (Astelia-like) Collospermum, are called nest epiphytes because that's what they look like. They have extensive roots systems allowing them to cling to the branches until they eventually fall when they accumulate too much soil and detritis or their roots age and fail. There are also perching lilies, native Pittosporum and many ferns as well as uncounted lichens, mosses and algae.

The Rimu (or Red Pine), Dacrydium cupressinum, is an emergent forest tree in the podocarp family, a kind of coni…

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