Field work is a key part of scientific research at Te Papa. Each year, Research Scientist Heidi Meudt spends about three weeks in the field collecting specimens for her taxonomic research on native New Zealand forget-me-nots (Myosotis).
In January 2017, she travelled to three main areas in northern South Island (Cobb Valley, Mt Owen and ranges around St Arnaud) together with Collection Manager Ant Kusabs to hunt for some more forget-me-nots.
Read on to learn about the different species of forget-me-nots they found on the trip, as well as other specimens which are now part of Te Papa’s Botany collection.
Cobb Valley, Kahurangi National Park
For the first part of the trip, we teamed up with colleagues Shannel Courtney, Simon Walls, and Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls (Department of Conservation), whose extensive local knowledge of the flora and geography of the park was indispensable.
With their help, as well as using detailed information from collections and databases at Te Papa and other New Zealand institutions, we found and collected several different species, including the following:
- Myosotis chaffeyorum and M. mooreana, two rare species endemic to this area, described in 2012 by Te Papa Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach.
- Myosotis brockiei, also endemic to Nelson.
- Myosotis macrantha, common throughout South Island mountains, with its uniquely-coloured flowers and one of the six forget-me-not species that is Not Threatened.
Owen Massif, Kahurangi National Park
Mt Owen has a fascinating geological history, which might help explain why its flora and fauna are unique, including some special forget-me-nots. Although the weather was not always cooperative, Ant and I nevertheless made some exciting collections.
- And although it is impossible to choose a favourite species, the yellow-flowered Myosotis concinna – known only from this area – would probably be near the top of the list.
- We also found Myosotis australis, another common (and Not Threatened) species throughout the South Island. But unlike most New Zealand forget-me-nots, M. australis is also native to Australia and Papua New Guinea. Current morphological and genetic research is underway to determine if M. australis is indeed one wide-ranging species, or rather comprises multiple species that will require scientific description.
Ranges near St Arnaud
On the third and final part of our field trip, we teamed up with Jessie Prebble (former Te Papa PhD student, now Plant Systematist at Landcare Research!) and keen student Zuri Burns, who were also doing field work in the same areas.
We found populations of two additional forget-me-not species of note:
- Myosotis laeta is only found in the northern Southern Island.
- Myosotis traversii, on the other hand, is a common species found on high-elevation scree slopes throughout the South Island. We also found it in the Cobb Valley, where we somehow managed to collect despite very strong winds.
In total, we found and collected several populations of nine of the 40+ native Myosotis species in New Zealand, which we are actively researching now. Which is your favourite? We also made several other important collections for the museum. Stay tuned to future blogs about our results, and, of course, our next field trips.