Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


The woodrose, Dactylanthus taylorii, is a fully parasitic plant that grows on the roots of certain trees in New Zealand. The host tree responds toe the presence of dactylanthus by forming a burl-like structure that resembles a fluted wooden rose (hence the common name).

The Māori word for woodrose is "pua o te reinga", 'flower of the underworld'.

Dactylanthus is regarded, as of 2004, as a 'Category A' threatened species. The New Zealand Department of Conservation started a recovery plan in 1995.

The plant has no green leaves and is pollinated by the short-tailed bat. Some plants have been aged in excess of 30 years old. It prefers damp but not waterlogged soil, and is often found at the head of small streams. It tends to live under dense canopies of tall trees but some specimens may be found at forest borders.

The plant is cryptic, and hence hard to survey, but there are unlikely to be more than a few thousand in existence. Most of these are in the Central North Island, but there are a few on Little Barrier Island. It is likely that many sites are known only to collectors, as the woody growth has commercial value.

The woodrose is under threat from harvesting by collectors, browsing by possums, rats and deer, habitat loss, and the rarity of its pollinators and seed dispersers.