Dactylanthus Taylorii or Flower of Hades as reflected in the Maori name "pua o te reinga," meaning 'flower of the underworld,' and refers to the way its flowers emerge from below ground.
This endemic parasitic plant is also known as Wood rose which refers to the point where the Dactylanthus joins to the host plant with a root like attachment. The host plant reacts to the intruder with its root creating a wider fluted shape, which becomes the “wood rose”. Dactylanthus draws its nutrients through this joint and is totally reliant on the host tree.
The forest floor plant is in serious decline as is its main pollinator the nocturnal endemic Short-tailed bat Mystacina tuberculata. The painting shows the bat feeding at night on the male flowers that produce a lot of nectar to attract the bat which will get pollen on its face which is then transferred to female flowers as it moves through the clumps.
ther feeders like the Wellington tree Weta Hemideina crassidens is attracted as are many other insects like moths, ants, flies and different wetas.
The male flowers grow in a circular clump around the gnarled host wood rose. Feathery female flowers grow on separate host roots, but occur close to male flowers as seen to the right of the painting, which also shows the developing stages of the fruiting structures with a New Zealand native millipede Eumastigonus sp.
The graphite drawings along the base of the painting show from left to right, a spike of the male flowers with dehiscing anthers containing pollen x 9, spike of female flowers x 9 , mature seed x 9 and the wood rose at natural size.
The main painting is painted at a scale of x 3 natural size to show the full life cycle of the plant.