A potential new native flower species has bloomed from Auckland's recently opened Waterview Connection.
The small pale pink flower, which sprouted from cracks and crevices along Oakley Creek, has caught the eye of botanists who believe they may be propagating a new, previously unidentified native species of geranium.
The flower was found growing alongside the Hendon Park and Alan Wood Reserve stretch of Oakley Creek, Te Auaunga stream, as part of an extensive study of the Waterview Connection's ecological footprint.
As was typical of all geraniums native to New Zealand, their swollen roots are obvious adaptations to dry, gravelly, sandy or light-loamy soils.
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But this geranium had a narrower taproot than many, perhaps reflecting moisture levels along the creek where it was discovered.
Waterview Connection ecologist, Kathryn Longstaff of Tonkin and Taylor, said it was possible the geranium found its way to New Zealand from Australia - or that it is a variant of this country's few indigenous geraniums.
"The Oakley Creek geranium has one significant characteristic that makes it different from others encountered in the area, the leaf stem hairs lie flat, rather than upright," she said.
The genus is rare around New Zealand and to find one that is not quite like the others is quite exciting, even if it turns out to be an introduced one.
"And if it's a new native species that will be really cool."
A team of people within the Waterview Connection project have been restoring Oakley Creek, which had been suffering from neglect.
"The area was now recovering and native plants now line the creek's banks, and microenvironments are quickly establishing themselves.
"That's great news for biodiversity - providing better habitats for things like eels, insects and food sources and it was fabulous to find eels in the stream recently," Longstaff said.
The plants that could be left undisturbed were fenced off.
Seed was then collected and propagated at Auckland's Oratia Native Nursery.
Since then 1400 Oakley Creek seedlings have been planted along the creek.