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They are all members of the carrot family, a huge group of flowering plants also known as the Umbelliferae, Apiaceae, parsley or parsnip family.
Most members of the carrot family are aromatic herbs with alternately arranged, divided leaves that widen at the base and clasp around the stem. They usually have a taproot, like a carrot, and many tiny flowers joined by short stalks into spherical or flattened structures known as compound umbels.
The carrot family is well represented in the New Zealand flora. With the exception of our native celery, Apium prostratum, you won't find candidates for your vege patch among our eccentric branch of the family. You will, however, find some worthy ornamentals not seen in the average home garden:
Anisotome latifolia: one of the subantarctic island megaherbs with clusters of magnificent pink pompoms emerging from chunky rosettes of stiff, divided leaves.
Gingidia montana: sometimes called New Zealand aniseed, this species has glossy, divided leaves and white, lacy flowers.
Aciphylla dieffenbachii: this speargrass from the Chatham Islands has soft, feathery leaves compared to others in the genus.
Scandia rosifolia: a sprawling subshrub, also known as native angelica, with shining, rose-like leaves.
All these species like a sunny spot and moist soil with excellent drainage. You can visit them in Dunedin Botanic Garden, opposite Lovelock Bush and the bowling club, where they have been planted as ground-covering companions to the native Veronica collection.
Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Kate Caldwell.