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Illustration for "Plants of the Gouland Downs and
Perry Pass" ISSN 0375-0108

Original Pencil Drawing:
"Astelia linearis"
NZ Astelia Sp.

Astelias are generally large herbs with heads of stiff sword-like leaves, generally dwelling in trees. The flowers in most species are produced in large spreading panicles.

To quote an interesting observation from Laing and Blackwell:

"Though the headquarters of the genera are in new Zealand, they and their allies are represented also in Australia, in the islands of the Pacific to Hawaii in the north, in South America and in Reunion. Skottsberg considers that this strange distribution can only be accounted for by postulating an origin in the Antarctic."

This species, found in the NW Nelson high country, is obviously an alpine plant.

Astelia linearis is a small subalpine variety with leaves only 2.5-5" long. The underside has soft woolly scales. Although the flowers are inconspicuous, its large red "jelly bean" fruits are showy. In contrast with most of the other Astelias, this is a mat-forming plant.

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