South Island Botany Field Trip: weedy highlights

In early December 2014, three Te Papa Botany Staff embarked on a 11 day field trip from Otago to North Canterbury.  We collected specimens, images and DNA samples of native forget-me-nots (Myosotis) and New Zealand hebes (Veronica). See the first blog in this series for more detail.

Along the way, other native (and naturalised) species were also collected for Te Papa’s herbarium. All collections are now available on Te Papa Collection Online. Below are some highlights of naturalised (or weedy) plants we collected.

Heidi Meudt, collecting beside highway, Cromwell. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Heidi Meudt, collecting beside highway, Cromwell. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Our weed collecting included a roadside stop across the road from a cafe in Cromwell, Central Otago where we could collect plants and drink good coffee! Now that’s my idea of a good time.

cotton thistle, Onopordum acanthium L., (SP103865). Collected 13 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Central Otago, Cromwell, roadside. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

cotton thistle, Onopordum acanthium L., (SP103865). Collected 13 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Central Otago, Cromwell, roadside. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The plant in the photo above is said by some, according to Professor Phil Garnock-Jones, to be the true Scotch thistle. I certainly prefer this species to the well known, more prickly scotch thistle and would even consider it for the garden.

dwarf mallow, Malva neglecta Wallr., (SP103866). Collected 13 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Central Otago, Cromwell, roadside. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

dwarf mallow, Malva neglecta Wallr., (SP103866). Collected 13 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Central Otago, Cromwell, roadside. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Another great spot for weeds was Potts River, Canterbury where I could have botanised longer. With one more stop on our itinerary for the day and daylight running out, we had to keep moving.

catchfly, Silene gallica L., (SP103876). Collected 15 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Canterbury, Mount Potts, Potts River. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

catchfly, Silene gallica L., (SP103876). Collected 15 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Canterbury, Mount Potts, Potts River. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

procumbent pearlwort, Sagina procumbens L., (SP103879). Collected 15 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Canterbury, Mount Potts, Potts River. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

procumbent pearlwort, Sagina procumbens L., (SP103879). Collected 15 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Canterbury, Mount Potts, Potts River. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

When people think of weeds in New Zealand, they often do not think of ferns. According to Dr Leon Perrie, there are about fifty foreign fern species which have become naturalised in New Zealand.  One very common weedy example is African club moss (Selaginella kraussiana).  The fern pictured below is also one of the more widespread and obvious naturalised fern species in New Zealand. Here’s an older blog on weedy ferns by Leon.

Male fern, Dryopteris filix-mas (L.) Schott, (P027376). Collected 16 Dec 2014, Canterbury, Rakaia River, Rakaia Gorge. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Male fern, Dryopteris filix-mas (L.) Schott, (P027376). Collected 16 Dec 2014, Canterbury, Rakaia River, Rakaia Gorge. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

We were also asked to collect material for DNA analysis and voucher specimens from three species of Tragopogon (Asteraceae) for colleagues at Massey University (Dr Jennifer Tate and Dr Vaughan Symonds). These very attractive naturalised plants from Europe have a scattered New Zealand distribution. These species do not usually hybridise in their native Europe, but they are known to hybridise in North America where they were also introduced.  Finding out what they do in New Zealand will be part of the Massey Researchers objectives.

angiosperms, Tragopogon porrifolius L., (SP103846). Collected 13 Dec 2014, Central Otago, Cromwell. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

angiosperms, Tragopogon porrifolius L., (SP103846). Collected 13 Dec 2014, Central Otago, Cromwell. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

 goat's beard, Tragopogon pratensis L., (SP103848). Collected 16 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Canterbury, West Coast Road. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

goat’s beard, Tragopogon pratensis L., (SP103848). Collected 16 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Canterbury, West Coast Road. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Tragopogon dubius Scop., (SP103847). Collected 13 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Central Otago, Cromwell. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Tragopogon dubius Scop., (SP103847). Collected 13 Dec 2014, New Zealand, Central Otago, Cromwell. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Phil Garnock-Jone (in the background), searching for more Tragapogon species, West Coast road, Canterbury. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Phil Garnock-Jones (in the distance), searching for more Tragapogon species, West Coast road, Canterbury. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

At the Te Papa herbarium, we are just as interested in collecting cultivated or naturalised foreign plants in New Zealand, as we are collecting indigenous species. We can use these specimens as a general identification resource, perhaps to compare with specimens from other districts. The herbarium specimens can also be a useful tool for tracking the rate of species spread through the landscape over time. And of course, taxonomists around the world are interested in species variations that may occur in New Zealand specimens, once established.

Thanks to the Department of Conservation, landowners and our volunteers, who supported us and helped make our field work possible.

Related blogs:

South Island Botany Field Trip – Te Papa Botanists in Action!

South Island Botany Field Trip: native plants from the high country

2 Responses

  1. adele

    what a lovely project… so interesting… a weed is only an unwanted flower… often weeds are very pretty…

    Reply
    • Antony Kusabs

      Indeed they are Adele. Thanks for your comment. We just need to be vigilant of those species that become too weedy and threaten the composition, and integrity, of our native plant communities. Especially, those communities with rare native plants. We now have more foreign naturalised plant species in New Zealand than native species and some of these have yet to show themselves as aggressive invaders. Time will tell.

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