Posts written by Leon Perrie

Vampires in the leaf litter

  • A Dendrocnide stinger tree. This nettle-relative packs a particularly nasty poisonous punch if you have the misfortune to touch any part of it (including the trunk!). Not as ferocious-looking as our tree nettle, but I’m reliably informed the sting is worse. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • An echidna. A monotreme mammal like the platypus. Cute but spiky. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Spikes on the stems of rattan palms. These palms also had fine, hanging trendils, which were easy to walk into because they were hard to see, but difficult to subsequently escape because they had barbed spikes. Photos by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The impressively armed leaf of what we believe is a Solanum (relative of tomato, potato, and poroporo). Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

There’s trauma in this leaf litter – can you see it?! A downside to fieldwork in Australia is the number of things that will bite, impale, or otherwise injure. We had several wet days when the leeches were out in force. At one site, half of our group suffered a leech in the eye –… Read more »

Queensland fern fieldwork

Asplenium carnarvonense is only known from a few gorges in inland southern Queensland. The gorges provide respite for ferns and other moisture-loving plants in what is otherwise an arid landscape. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I was recently in Queensland, Australia, working with colleagues from the University of Melbourne to collect ferns for DNA analyses. We were principally after the spleenwort Asplenium ferns, and drove large distances in pursuit of the different species. 27 of Australia’s 30 species of Asplenium occur in Queensland, which has a rich fern diversity. New… Read more »

Big travels for little ferns

Lindsaea trichomanoides. (c) Leon Perrie.

Lindsaea are small dainty ferns that are easily overlooked. Three species are indigenous to New Zealand. Recent DNA-based research (Lehtonen et al. 2010) implies that each got here independently; i.e., there were three separate dispersal events. This is because the three species in New Zealand are each more closely related to an overseas species than… Read more »

Fat pigs and beech trees

Left: Nothofagus solandri leaves with flower buds. Right: close up of open flowers. (c) Leon Perrie

Dave Kelly (University of Canterbury) recently talked to the Wellington Botanical Society about mast seeding. Mast seeding is where individuals of a plant species synchronously produce unusually large seed crops every few years. There is often no regular cycle. New Zealand is a world centre for mast seeding (and research on mast seeding). Some New… Read more »

Botany Fieldtrip Wairarapa 2010: Day 4

Horsetail, Equisetum arvense. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.

Our final collecting day. We packed up and began heading from home. We spent about an hour alongside the road in the gorge of the Owahanga River. Peter was pleased to add several new mosses, including some that have a liking for calcareous substrates. We were disappointed to find the invasive horsetail Equisetum arvense well… Read more »

Botany Fieldtrip Wairarapa 2010: Day 3

  • Back at base, Leon and Barry press the bigger specimens between newspaper and cardboard. Pat, in the background, checks his notes. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.
  • Peter and Pat look for mosses on rocks outside the forest. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.
  • Jean-Claude took photographs of most of the bigger plants that we collected. These will go on Te Papa’s Collections Online website. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The divaricating shrub Raukaua anomalus was common at all of the forested sites we visited. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.

On day three we collected from another QEII National Trust site inland from Akitio. Diverse habitats kept us busy, with the canopy ranging from black beech (Nothofagus solandri) on ridges through hillside tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa) to creek-lined pukatea (Laurelia novae-zelandiae).  Collections Online specimens from Wairarapa 2009 trip. Growing Te Papa’s plant collection. Botany Fieldtrip Wairarapa… Read more »

Botany Fieldtrip Wairarapa 2010: Day 2

  • The moss collectors processing their specimens back at base. Additional lighting is needed to see many of the diagnostic features of these small plants. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.
  • Looking eastwood towards the end of the day. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.
  • Mountain cabbage tree, Cordyline indivisa. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.
  • Craspedia flower head, Nertera, and Euphrasia. Photos by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.

Day two comprised a visit to a covenanted reserve on the eastern scarp of the Puketoi Range, arranged by QEII National Trust representative for Tararua, Bill Wallace. QEII National Trust website. We collected about 60 species of vascular plants and a similar number of bryophytes (mosses & liverworts).  Amongst our haul was the first confirmed… Read more »

Botany Fieldtrip Wairarapa 2010: Day 1

Roadside collecting. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.

This year’s Wairarapa plant collecting trip was to the Pongaroa area. Day 1 started with packing up Te Papa’s 4WD. Then the long drive to our Akitio accommodation. We made a few stops along the way, targeting places that looked to have a diverse array of weeds and/or be promising for mosses. We followed a… Read more »

Growing Te Papa’s Plant Collection

Fern specimen in Te Papa’s botany collection. © Te Papa.

Te Papa’s collection of c. 250 000 dried plant specimens grows by about 2000 a year. In part this is from donations, but principally it is from collections made by Te Papa’s Botany staff and associates. More of Te Papa’s Botany collection on Collections Online. Some of our fieldtrips target particular species that we are… Read more »

New Fork Fern

Banks Peninsula fork fern, Tmesipteris horomaka. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

We have just described a new species of Tmesipteris fork fern. Fork ferns are odd looking and only distantly related to other ferns. We now recognise five species in New Zealand. There are only about 15 species around the world, with Australasia their strong-hold. The new species has been named Tmesipteris horomaka. It is only… Read more »