Welcome to Day 2 of the Gully Project! Today, on this uncharacteristically warm (16 degrees as I write this) winter's day, the gully's coolness was in noticeable contrast to the warmth and brightness of the world above. The tree I chose to identify today is the pate (Schefflera digitata), otherwise known as "seven finger", even though its leaves can be made up of anything from 3 to 9 leaflets.
This small tree, which grows up to 8 metres tall, is widespread throughout New Zealand's lowland and mountain forests. It grows in the understorey, in canopy gaps and other moist, sheltered places, such as along stream banks. It is certainly fairly prolific in our forest fragment, making the most of opportunities to claim its space in the undergrowth.
It has the distinction of being the first species to be named and described following Cook's second voyage to New Zealand. Like many other plants, it was used medicinally for Maori. Among these, its sap is effective against ring worm, as well as other skin conditions ... I will bear that in mind...
And in other news, I have now joined iNaturalist NZ, where I am looking forward to benefitting from the expertise from ecologists, botanists and other experts around the country.