Story: Taranaki region

Boxthorn thorns (2nd of 4)

Boxthorn thorns

The spiky growth habit of boxthorn makes it a tough plant to deal with. The incredibly rapid growth of boxthorn hedges has become part of local Taranaki folklore, as humorist John W. Brimblecombe describes:

‘Boxthorn start as delicate little plants about eighteen inches high, which are carefully spaced out along a raised bank to form a new hedge. The farmer is proud of them … and … believes them to be tender little shrubs needing protection. He digs a deep trench on each side of the row and puts two strands of barbed wire neatly staked outside each trench.

‘Having completed his hedge the farmer goes home to tea and the following morning … he finds an enormous hedge, fifteen feet [4.5 metres] high and thirty feet [9 metres] wide at the base, covered with millions of ferocious thorns, and completely engulfing the trenches and barbed wire and probably a few sheep and cows.’

(Shear nonsense. Wellington: A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1953.)

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How to cite this page:

Ron Lambert, 'Taranaki region - Changing the environment', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 27 June 2022)

Story by Ron Lambert, updated 1 Aug 2015