Kōwhangatara/Spinifex Spinifex sericeus
Native. Not threatened
As the key species of grass that underpins the dune ecosystems of much of Aotearoa New Zealand, this species is the pre-eminent builder of dunes. The rolling female seed heads are familiar to beach-goers all over the country in summer. The orange male seed head is distinctively different to the female, making determination of gender of the plants simple in summer. Studies have shown that fertility increases if a male plant is in close proximity to a group of females but even then fertility is only around 45% making determination of the viability of seed a problem for growers wanting to assist in restoration projects.
Over the past few years Horowhenua District Council have held planting sessions, having planted over 10,000 Kōwhangatara, and. recently Wildlife Foxton Trust have grown, with funding from Horizons Regional Council, nearly 3000 plants which were planted in 2023. These sessions will continue so please check Events to see if any are planned for the near future.
Although Kōwhangatara is primarily a dry dune species, it is very much a part of the dune wetland ecosystem in the Dune Garden.