Newly described fern named after Te Papa curator

A new species of tree fern has recently been named after Te Papa botany curator and fern expert Leon Perrie.

Dicksonia perriei from Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie

Dicksonia perriei from Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie

The fern, Dicksonia perriei, occurs only in New Caledonia mostly on acidic soils at altitudes above 1000m, in areas of high rainfall. The new species is related to the three other New Caledonia Dicksonia species and to the New Zealand tree ferns whekī (D. squarrosaand prostrate tree fern (D. lanata).

An unfurling frond of a Dicksonia perriei, Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie

An unfurling frond of a Dicksonia perriei, Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie

Dicksonia perriei was described in the scientific journal Phytotaxa and Leon’s observations and photographs from a 2012 fieldtrip to New Caledonia aided its authors, Sarah Noben and Marcus Lehnert, in describing this new species.

Frond of Dicksonia perriei, Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie

Frond of Dicksonia perriei, Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie

Dicksonia perrei, Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie.

Dicksonia perriei, Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie.

Several other Te Papa scientists have had taxa named after them, including mollusc researcher Bruce Marshall, who has over 20 species and 5 genera named in his honour, and bird lice expert Ricardo Palma.

12 Responses

  1. Rebecca Browne

    Congrats Leon!

    Reply
  2. Leon Perrie

    Thanks everyone.

    Reply
  3. Karen Mason

    Congratulations Leon on your ‘NY’s honour’. In consulting Wikipedia to find out the origins of Dicksonia, left me wondering… what is the official process for registering new species? How is this done and how does an ever expanding ‘register’ result in updated web pages? For example, when can we expect to see Dicksonia perriei listed on the following page? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dicksonia

    Reply
    • Leon Perrie

      Hi Karen,

      New scientific names have to be registered for fungi and some other groups, but not for plants. The plant taxonomists have repeatedly rejected central registration of new names (presumably preferring the prevailing anarchy over the confines of centralisation).

      Nevertheless, there are some rules that have to be followed before a new plant name will be considered “validly published” by the botanical community. There’s a big rule book around this, but for new species it boils down to:
      * the paper publication containing the new name must be distributed to at least two institutions. Peer-reviewed mainstream literature is highly desirable, but not essential. (Electronic publication is also now possible within some tight requirements.)
      * there must be a diagnosis (how is it different?) and/or description of the new species, in Latin and/or English. (Note that the diagnosis/description doesn’t have to be accurate or fulsome.)
      * a specimen must be designated as the ‘type’ and its whereabouts indicated.
      Rather simple and perhaps exposed to abuse, but few people do abuse it.

      Although there is no registration process for new plant names, various organisations do track the publication of new names, as they become aware of them (e.g., the International Plant Name Index). I guess Wikipedia will get updated in due course by a wiki editor (I’m not one). I’m interested to see that the Endemia website about New Caledonian plants and animals has already got the new Dicksonia names on their website (http://www.endemia.nc/flore/fiche8040.html); I’ll have to send them some pictures. I put the new names into Te Papa’s database a few days ago, and I’ve just ticked the ‘publish online’ button, so they should appear in Te Papa’s Collections Online tomorrow (http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/Taxon.aspx?irn=70497).

    • Karen Mason

      Thanks Leon. Appreciate your detailed explanation of the process.

  4. Heidi Meudt

    Congratulations, Leon! What a well-deserved honour.

    Reply
  5. Ruth Hendry

    Congratulations Leon! That’s a great start to 2014.

    Reply
  6. Geoff Davidson

    Mick is right. It is a special honour.

    Reply
  7. Sean Mallon

    Malo Leon, a true botanist of the Pacific….congratulations

    Reply
  8. Sally Tripp

    That is a well deserved recognition. Thanks for all the fern support we get from Leon.

    Reply
  9. Julia White

    Congratulations, I think that is really neat.

    Reply
    • Mick Parsons

      Infinitely better and more substantial than a New Years honour; for sure! Go Leon.

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