Each November, the Mackenzie Region in New Zealand's South Island begins to burst with colour. Along the lakes, shores and highways sprout flowers of brilliant pink and lavender colours. They are Russell Lupin (Lupinus Polyphyllus).
These flowers attract thousands of tourists every year, and have even won international photo awards. But as much as Russell Lupins are stunning, they’re actually a big environmental problem in New Zealand.
They are an invasive plant that crowd out native plant species and encourage the growth of other weeds by releasing nitrogen into the soil. In the summer they grow to up to 1.5 meters tall and the flowers have an oh-so sweet fragrance. As the weather heats up, their seedpods explode releasing its seeds into the soil. They then die back to a stem over the winter months and emerge again the following summer as beautiful, and as troublesome, as ever.
But it’s so hard not to love them – they are a photographers absolute dream! Especially close to the Lake Tekapo with it’s beautiful turquoise blue water and dramatic snow-capped mountains.
The verdict is split down the middle, tourists obviously love them – but the split is actually with farmers. Some want to get rid of them all calling them a weed and a pest, while others want to utilise them in grazing of sheep.
I wouldn’t be mad about having weeds this beautiful in my backyard!
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