A small, pale pink flower blooming from cracks and crevices along Auckland's Oakley Creek has caught the eye of botanists who believe it may be a new, previously unidentified native species of geranium.
The geranium was found growing alongside the Hendon Park/Alan Wood Reserve stretch of Oakley Creek, Te Auaunga stream, as part of an extensive study of the Waterview Connection's ecological footprint.
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 geranium seedlings have been planted along the creek.
Identifying the find
Waterview Connection ecologist, Kathryn Longstaff from Tonkin + Taylor, which is part of the Well-Connected Alliance delivering the project, says it's 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.
"The genus is rare around New Zealand and to find one that is not quite like the others, that's 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."
Lasting benefits of big projects
The NZ Transport Agency says the discovery of the Oakley Creek geranium and the work underway to preserve its future survival shows how large transport projects can harness the passion of engineers, scientists and the community to get lasting benefits that go well beyond a project's physical infrastructure.