Posts written by Leon Perrie

Fern Teaching Resource

Microsorum pustulatum, Hound's Tongue Fern.  (c) Te Papa.

Ferns now feature on the Science Learning Hub. Ferns at the Science Learning Hub. You can find out more about: What exactly is a fern? How ferns are identified and classified. The origins of New Zealand’s ferns. The role of a botany curator. The hen and chickens fern. And a whole lot more… Te Papa… Read more »

Queensland attractions

  • Unfurling fronds of the Ptisana (Marattia) oreades, a relative of para, New Zealand’s king fern.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The attractive cycad Bowenia spectabilis.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Flowering inflorescence of the root parasite Balanophora.  This is related to New Zealand’s bat-pollinated Dactylanthus.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • New Zealanders are pretty familiar with the koru, an unfurling fern frond.  But Australia’s prickly tree fern, Cyathea leichhardtiana, does it a bit differently.  It unfurls the leafy parts of a frond only after the “stem” parts of the frond (technically the rachis and the costae) are nearly fully extended.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Despite my previous post, Queensland’s rainforests were far from entirely unpleasant.  The below caught me eye (and of course there were lots of interesting ferns too!). New Zealand’s king fern.

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 »