Posts written by Leon Perrie

Restoring our surrounds

Houpara, coastal five-finger, Pseudopanax lessonii, is native to the northern North Island, but not to Wellington. However, after being introduced by people, it now grows wild in Wellington (and many other parts of New Zealand outside its native range [http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2009/06/10/our-promiscuous-pseudopanax-plants/]). There are now a reasonable number of New Zealand plants occurring wild outside their indigenous distributions, entirely as a result of human activities. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.

I went to a very interesting Wellington Botanical Society talk last night, by Paul Blaschke of Friends of Owhiro Stream. Paul was talking about their work revegetating the catchment of the Owhiro Stream in southern Wellington. It stimulated an intriguing discussion about how and what we should be restoring, which in turn relates to what… Read more »

Our promiscuous Pseudopanax plants

  • Distribution maps for (A) lancewood, (B) coastal five-finger, and (C) their hybrids. Circles indicate natural distributions, and were compiled using data from the AK (Auckland Museum), CHR (Landcare Research), NZFRI (Scion), and WELT (Te Papa) herbaria. Squares for coastal five-finger and the hybrids indicate their ‘weedy’ distribution, this being a preliminary assessment based on my observations.
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  • Distribution maps for (A) lancewood, (B) coastal five-finger, and (C) their hybrids. Circles indicate natural distributions, and were compiled using data from the AK (Auckland Museum), CHR (Landcare Research), NZFRI (Scion), and WELT (Te Papa) herbaria. Squares for coastal five-finger and the hybrids indicate their ‘weedy’ distribution, this being a preliminary assessment based on my observations.
  • Coastal five-finger, houpara, Pseudopanax lessonii. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.

New Zealand’s plants have a bit of a reputation for pronounced promiscuity. There is supposedly a high rate of hybridisation, or individuals of one species breeding with individuals of a different species. I’m not entirely sure that this reputation is nationally deserved. Nevertheless, a striking example of hybridisation occurs in Pseudopanax, which is one of… Read more »

WEED ALERT – watch for horsetails!

  • Distribution of Equisetum arvense in New Zealand as indicated by verifiable specimens in Te Papa’s herbarium. Te Papa’s collection is an under-representation of this species’ full extent, having been recorded by others from Auckland, Napier, New Plymouth, Christchurch, and Dunedin.
  • Equisetum arvense is much smaller (up to 80 cm tall, but often much shorter) and is branched, whereas Equisetum hyemale is unbranched. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl, Natural Environment Imager. Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  • Stems of Equisetum hyemale, with the terminal ‘cones’ that produce spores. Photo by Clayson Howell, DOC. Copyright Clayson Howell, Wellington.
  • An unimpressed Jon Terry (DOC) with the Levin infestation of Equisetum hyemale. Photo by Clayson Howell, DOC. Copyright Clayson Howell, Wellington.

An infestation of a giant horsetail, Equisetum hyemale, has been found near Levin. It was spotted by eagle-eyed Department of Conservation staff. They gave us a specimen for Te Papa’s herbarium collection of dried plants.   No horsetail species occur naturally in New Zealand, but several have been purposefully or accidentally introduced. Because they are… Read more »

Is your hen and chickens fern a fake?

  • The cave spleenwort, Asplenium cimmeriorum, is related to the hen & chickens ferns but doesn't produce bulbils. It is found in limestone areas, including caves, around Waitomo and the north-west of the South Island. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  • The false hen & chickens fern - Asplenium ×lucrosum - has dimorphic, or two very different looking, fronds on the same individual. The fronds with spore-producing structures have much narrower frond segments than fronds without. This difference in form can even occur within a single frond if it has regions with and without reproductive structures. Asplenium bulbiferum and Asplenium gracillimum do not have dimorphic fronds. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  • Asplenium gracillimum with narrow frond segments. These resemble the fertile fronds of Asplenium ×lucrosum (see below), but they can be distinguished by all of the fronds having narrow segments, rather than having both broad (when without spore-producing structures) and narrow (when with spore-producing structures) segments. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.
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Are you growing a hen & chickens fern at home? If so, chances are it’s a fake, unless you dug it out of the bush. Hen & chickens ferns get their common name from their production of bulbils, or vegetative outgrowths, on the upperside of their fronds. These bulbils are the ‘chickens’ and the fronds… Read more »

The false hen and chickens fern

Fronds with (left) and without (right) reproductive structures, of the same individual of Asplenium ×lucrosum.  Asplenium ×lucrosum inherited this frond dimorphism (having two forms) from Norfolk Island’s Asplenium dimorphum. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Most hen & chickens ferns in cultivation are the false hen & chickens fern, Asplenium ×lucrosum, rather than Asplenium bulbiferum.  The two are easily distinguished. Asplenium ×lucrosum is a sterile hybrid between Asplenium bulbiferum and Asplenium dimorphum.  The “×” preceding “lucrosum” indicates it is a hybrid. The two parent species – Asplenium bulbiferum  and Asplenium… Read more »

Want to learn about mosses and liverworts?

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I am helping to organise the 2009 John Child Bryophyte Workshop.   Bryophytes comprise mosses, liverworts, and hornworts.  The Workshop also covers lichens, and it provides a great opportunity  to learn more about these fascinating plants.  Novices are welcome, with guidance provided for beginners. The workshop will be based at Pukeora Estate, near Waipukurau in Hawke’s Bay,… Read more »

Weedy ferns

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  • Distribution of male fern, Dryopteris filix-mas, in New Zealand, based on specimens in Te Papa's WELT herbarium. Note that this is a significant under-representation.
  • Male fern

Chris Horne of the Wellington Botanical Society recently sent me a fern frond they collected on one of their trips. Although the frond is small and lacking the diagnostic reproductive characters, I think it is the introduced holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum). It looks like the shining spleenwort (Asplenium oblongifolium), but the flanges, or ‘teeth’, of the… Read more »

More rare maidenhair spleenwort.

  • These rocks are host to several plants of tetraploid maidenhair spleenwort.
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  • DNA sequence data. The highlighted position is one of several DNA sites found by Lara that differ between the tetraploid (upper two samples) and octoploid (lower two samples) maidenhair spleenworts.
  • These rocks are host to several plants of tetraploid maidenhair spleenwort.]

The rare, tetraploid maidenhair spleenwort  (Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens) has only recently been rediscovered in New Zealand.  Several people have contacted me with possible additional sightings. As described by the Scoop website, Jack Ritchie had a maidenhair spleenwort self-sow on a rock used to construct a water feature in his nursery, Tree Guys, in Otane…. Read more »

What’s a punga?

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  • Whekī-ponga, Dicksonia fibrosa.
  • Kātote, Cyathea smithii.
  • Mamaku, Cyathea medullaris.

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN SUPERSEDED. A more comprehensive account of New Zealand’s tree ferns is available here. ‘Punga’ is a quintessential Kiwi word used to refer to tree ferns or sometimes, more specifically, the trunks of tree ferns.  But in his book A Dictionary of Maori Plant Names, James Beever does not record any tree… Read more »