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Astelia chathamica
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Family
Asteliaceae

Synonyms
Astelia nervosa var. chathamica Skottsb.
Astelia cv. Silver Spear.

Distribution
A native of the wet, peaty soils in the Chatham Islands.

Description
Astelia chathamica is one of the largest and most recognisable of the taller-growing Astelia species forming large clumps up to 1.5m or so tall. It has broad, stiff, erect silvery leaves up to 2m high by 10cm wide, which droop towards the ends and are covered with a clear pellicle giving it a distinctive silvery sheen. It flowers in October and November, producing a large white inflorescence, followed by bright orange 1x1cm fruits in February to June. Astelia ‘Silver Spear' is a selected form.

Leaves 4-10cm wide, stiff and coriaceous, erect or stiffly arching and usually more or less covered with silky or chaffy hairs or scales, which may form a peculiar indumentum. The inflorescence is a terminal panicle. The flowers are mostly dioecious, although individual plants may produce some hermaphrodite flowers. These are small and starry in appearance, with six tepals. The fruit is a berry, and the seeds are black and glossy.

Cultivation
Astelia chathamica is robust and easily grown, and although it prefers a rich soil can tolerate quite dry and windy conditions as well as sun and shade. However, to fully develop its leaf colour it should be planted in an open situation. It is frost hardy but intolerant of high moisture, and can be used in a coastal situation

Great as a feature plant in massed plantings, or where its distinctive form and colour complements other species, and can also be used as a special container plant.

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