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HIf there's anything that annoys trampers, it's hook grass - Maori name kamu and common name hooked sedge (Uncinia uncinata).
Almost anyone who has gone walking in our bush has probably come across this native plant, especially people with hairy legs!
The tiny, barbed, fish-hook extension on the seeds catch with equal ease on to hair, woolly socks, the feathers of ground-dwelling birds and flying birds which often feed on the ground and the coats of mammals. Later, when we, birds and animals scratch off the seeds, the plant has achieved its purpose - seed distribution - a reason why this plant is often thick along the edges of forest tracks.
Hook grass is found all over New Zealand, growing in coastal to montane forests and scrub, and occasionally in bogs, up to 900m above sea level. Alongside the tracks, look for its dense tufts of grass-like, rough-edged, bright green leaves, 3-4mm wide, and 15-45cm or more long. In summer the flower stalks rise, more or less straight, from the clumps of leaves. Although called hook grass, technically it's not a grass, but a member of the sedge family. The stems of sedges are triangular in cross-section while the stems of grasses are round in cross-section.
An alternative Maori name for this plant is matau a Maui (Maui's hook), a reference to the fabled Maui learning from his mother about the effectiveness of a barbed hook for bird spearing. Maui is also credited in some Maori mythology with inventing the much more efficient barbed fishhook.
Wanganui Tramping Club members are looking forward to some great trips in May. That month's programme is:
¦ Sat or Sun, April 30 or May 1, Old Coach Road, leader Frances
¦ Sun-Tues, 1-3, Powell-Jumbo circuit, leader Brian
¦ Sat 7, Sledge Track, leader Dave
¦ Sat 7, Pot luck dinner, leader Dorothy
¦ Sun 8, Waitahinga, leader Basil
¦ Sat or Sun, 14 or 15, mountain biking Palmerston North, leader Tracey
¦ Sat or Sun, 14 or 15, Rangipo Hut, leader Dorothy
¦ Sat 21, Wharite Peak, leader Dave
¦ Sat-Sun, 21-22, Syme Hut, leader Shane
¦ Sat or Sun, 28 or 29, Te Araroa Trail stage 8, leader Roger
Make all enquiries about trips to Barbara, phone 348 9149, or the club secretary Dorothy phone 345 7039.
The midweekers have a full programme of interesting trips every Wednesday. Those who get out on Thursday are in two groups, with longer walks on May 5 and 19 and shorter ones for the TT2 group on May 12 and 26. The Wednesday contact is Margret, phone 344 3899, and the Thursday contact is Barbara, phone 348 9149.
To join weekend trips call the leader by the previous Tuesday at the latest. Call by the night before for day trips. As some trips have limited numbers, leaders have the final say about who to take as they are responsible for the safety and well-being of everyone on their trips.
The next meeting in the Deerstalkers' Hall, Peat St, on Wednesday, May 4, will feature the club's annual photo competition, also the annual tramping gear sale. If you have anything to sell, bring it along. For further information contact Barbara at 348 9149 or visit our website www.wanganuitrampingclub.org.nz