Russell lupin

Russell lupins in the Mackenzie Basin are a perfect example of a garden plant in the wrong place.

A native of North America, their colourful flowers are much photographed by visitors during summer. However, in New Zealand Russell lupins are aggressive weeds that if left unchecked will choke out natives in unwanted locations like braided rivers, tussock grasslands and wetland habitats.

These areas are home to threatened species like kakī/black stilts, ngutu pare/wrybill and turiwhatu/banded dotterel. Lupins can grow to 1.5m tall, and not only do they invade the habitat of these birds, but they also provide cover for predators. Lupins encroach on the native birds’ nesting habitat, and capture silt which changes the course of braided rivers.

Photos : Robyn Janes and Peter Willemse