Mānuka is the most widely distributed shrub in New Zealand. When its woody seed capsules split, they shed thousands of tiny seeds into the air. Some mānuka have capsules that split and release their seed within a year, but many northern mānuka populations (especially on gumlands) retain some intact capsules for a number of years. Scientists think that these populations have a selective advantage – when fire sweeps through their stands, the capsules will split and release millions of seeds at one time.
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Photograph by G. R. Roberts
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