Posts written by Carlos Lehnebach

We know what you did this summer!!

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Bart Cox and Jasmine Gibbins spent their summer researching native orchids at Te Papa. Bart and Jasmine are part of a group of seven students from Victoria University of Wellington that were awarded a Summer Research Scholarship co-funded by Te Papa and Victoria University of Wellington. Bart’s research focused on a threatened perching orchid, Drymoanthus flavus, and its… Read more »

Unravelling the secrets of a 200-year-old European Orchid collection

  • Orchis conopsea L. collected near Gottingen (Germany) in 1768. Photo CA Lehnebach, © Te Papa.
  • Orchis alata collected in France, 1st May 1867. Photo CA Lehnebach, © Te Papa.
  • Close up to one of the newspapers used to separate and store the specimens.
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Te Papa’s collection of pressed, dried plant specimens includes samples of native and exotic species collected in New Zealand and other parts of the world. Many of the foreign specimens currently in the collection were brought into New Zealand in the late 1870s to be used as reference material and to assist with the identification of… Read more »

Rare forget-me-nots discovered in the mountains of the South Island

Habitat and plant of Chaffey's forget-me-not. Photo by CA Lehnebach, @ Te Papa

Today, two rare species of forget-me-nots have been added to the Flora of New Zealand. These new species were discovered during an expedition I led to Kahurangi National Park, one of the hotspot for forget-me-nots diversity in New Zealand. These new species, Myosotis chaffeyorum (Chaffey’s Forget-me-not) and Myosotis mooreana (Moore’s forget-me-not) are described and illustrated in an article published today… Read more »

Orchid hunting in the Rimutaka Range

  • Orchid hunting in the Rimutaka (Emma Bodley, Anne Gaskett, Chau Phing Ong, Alastir Robertson & Carlos A. Lehnebach). Photo by Jonathan Frericks, © Jonathan Frericks.
  • Green hood orchid (Pterostylis alobula). Photo CA Lehnebach,  © Te Papa.
  • Pygmy orchid, piripiri (Ichthyostomum pygmaeum). Largest leaves are about 1 cm long! Photo CA Lehnebach,  © Te Papa.
  • Little moa orchid (Drymoanthus adversus). Photo by CA Lehnebach, © Te Papa.

When we think about about orchids we usually think about tropical islands or unexplored jungle-covered mountains in distant lands. This is not always the case, and many orchids are also found in temperate and cold regions of the world. Some orchids have even reached the Subantarctic islands where, not so long ago, two orchid species were discovered…. Read more »

Does every spider orchid in New Zealand have its fungus gnat?

Flowers of the native Spider orchid Nematoceras trilobum.

Te Papa’s Curator of Botany, Carlos Lehnebach, has just been awarded a Marsden Fast-Start grant for three years to answer this intriguing question. Spider Orchids are a group of terrestrial orchids that are usually found on forest floors and road banks. Their flowers are small and dull in colour, and it has been suggested that… Read more »

Kohekohe, one of the funkiest trees in town!

Fruits of Kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile). Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

There are four reasons that make kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile) one of the funkiest trees in town     First, unlike many other trees, Kohekohe flowers sprout from the trunk and branches. This feature is known as cauliflory and it’s believed to be an adaptation to pollination and seed dispersal by animals that can’t fly or insects living at the ground level.    Second,… Read more »

Folding up to save water

Cross section of a leaf of a hooked grass under the microscope. Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Did you know that Hook Grasses can control water loss by folding up their leaves?  Contrary to their common name,  Hook Grasses are not grasses but Sedges and they belong to the family Cyperaceae.  Sedges are commonly found in wet or poorly drained habitats. Hook Grasses, however, can be found in a much greater diversity of habitats. In New Zealand, Hook Grasses can grow… Read more »

About hooks, hairy legs and sedges!!

  • Mature spike of Uncinia caespitosa indicating female and male sections. Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  • Male flowers of Uncinia and detail of stamens. Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  • Seed (achene) of a native hook sedge. Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
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Tramping in New Zealand forests can be an enjoyable and very relaxing activity. However, if your legs are hairy, it could be a painful and very annoying experience. Camouflaged among ferns and ground orchids, hook grasses are waiting, ready to clasp to the hairs or clothing of any unwary tramper. Hook grasses get their name… Read more »