Rare Flower Blooms in Auckland for the First Time in 30 years

The surprisingly beautiful kumara potato flower

A red and gold Kumara has flowered in an Auckland garden. The event is so rare that managing director of Kaipara Kumara Anthony Blundell has never seen a blooming red and gold kumara in his 30 years of working with the plant.

Kumara is a root vegetable, almost identical to the sweet potato that grows on vines and can be harvested year round.

David Singh from Freemans Bay grows the vine in his garden. Singh says looking online he knew that the Kumara Vine blooming was very rare.

"We are very surprised, it's so rare I don't think people see it at all," he said.

Blundell confirmed its rarity:

The red and gold [kumara], I don't think in all my years I've ever seen them flower, one of our guys might have seen it once years and years ago.

KumaraImage: Shutterstock

The kumara plant has a long history in New Zealand. Brought from the Pacific islands a thousand years ago by early Maori settlers they were a popular vegetable in the North Island.

Maoris cooking and washing in natural springs, New Zealand

Before the European settled in New Zealand, the Maori grew several different variety of bush Kumara, small in size, no bigger than a finger.

The kumara grown today in New Zealand evolved from the South American variety, similar to the sweet potato and much larger. 

What happened in the 1840s when the European and American whaling ships came out they brought a sweet potato from South America.

Traditionally the Kumara vegetable can be eaten boiled with meat and spinach in Pork and Puha. 

Usually, the vegetable doesn’t flower in New Zealand as it is a tropical vegetable. However, the Kumara has been known to flower under stress. It’s common to see the kumara flower during drought conditions.

Header: Kumara, Shutterstock

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