Native Plants of New Zealand

The native flora of New Zealand, which cover up to 15 percent of the country, have been isolated for millions of years. In fact, 80 percent of the plants in New Zealand can only be found there. Few of the plants have large flowers, but they make up for it in the variety of shapes, colors, textures and foliage.


Also called Chatham Island Christmas tree, this tree daisy reaches up to 26 feet tall. The leaves measure almost 5 inches long and accompany bright yellow flowers in the summer. The rautini tree grows in forests and alongside streams and ridge crests. It grows on Pitt Island as well.


The dactylanthus grows from under the ground, attached to the root of a host, and possesses a strong smell. It has no roots or green leaves itself but absorbs nutrients from placenta-like appendages. The plant grows less often in New Zealand nowadays, but it grows at the head of streams and near dense tree canopies.


The Maori, indigenous people of New Zealand, call this plant Harakeke. The flax, which is a lily, lays claim to being one of the country's oldest plant species. Tall, green leaves are shaped like swords and help provide shelter and food for many animals.

Golden Sand Sedge/Pikao

This sand-dwelling plant grows dark brown flowers in the spring that measure up to 12 inches long. The flowers and the stiff green, yellow or orange leaves help trap windblown sand. In southern New Zealand, this plant proves hardier and more compact and erect than its northern companions.


This pea family member grows between 6 and 10 feet tall and last approximately 20 years. It produces bright green seed pods and large red flowers in the spring. The seed pods turn brown and split open when dry, exposing small and edible dark seeds tightly packed together. The flowers hang in clusters of 15 to 20 blossoms. The kakabeak grows on rocky outcrops, at cliff bases, in sunny and steep areas, and alongside lake and stream edges.

Mount Cook Lily

The Mount Cook lily grows over 3 feet high, has white flowers, and showcases large green leaves bigger than the hand. Despite its name, it isn't a lily; it's the world's largest buttercup flower. This buttercup likes to grow alongside stream banks and in damp grassland areas.

Keywords: NZ plants, New Zealand flora, NZ flowers, NZ flora

About this Author

Sable Woods worked as a staff member of her high school newspaper and co-editor of the yearbook. In addition to writing for Demand Studios, she has written articles for Associated Content, ELance clients, and for use in marketing websites.