Posts written by Leon Perrie

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.
  • Caption

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?

moss1

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

  • caption
  • caption
  • 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.
  • asplenium_trichomanes_habitat1
  • 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?

  • dicksonia_squarrosa
  • 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 »

Coralline red algae

  • Scientists Tracy Farr (NIWA) and Louise Kregting (Otago) sampling corallines for chemical analysis
  • Jars of coralline specimens shelved at Te Papa's Tory St. spirit store
  • Coralline ‘pink paint' on rock (Credit: T.J.Farr)
  • pinkpaint

Botany has recently acquired a unique collection: a special group of calcified red algae known as the corallines. Coralline algae are abundant and ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans, playing very important roles in marine ecosystems. The encrusting, or crustose, species can form unusual lumpy, warty-looking layers in the intertidal, sometimes completely covering rocks. Perhaps you… Read more »

Identifying maidenhair spleenwort ferns.

  • blechnum_fluviatile_chambersii
  • The Button fern, Pellaea rotundifolia.
  • A maidenhair fern, Adiantum fulvum.
  • asplenium_flabellifolium1

The maidenhair spleenwort is a spleenwort fern (Asplenium) that (supposedly) looks like a maidenhair fern (Adiantum, see below). The 600 or so of the world’s spleenworts are characterised by having their reproductive structures in lines away from the margins of their fronds’ undersides. Two maidenhair spleenworts occur in New Zealand. They look very similar, but… Read more »

We have DNA

  • Pseudopanax macintyrei.
  • Pseudopanax macintyrei.
  • Adult tree of fierce lancewood, Pseudopanax ferox.
  • DNA of Pseudopanax on agarose gel after electrophoresis

The first step after collecting samples for genetic analyses is to extract the DNA. Lara and I do this for lancewood and five-finger plants (Pseudopanax) by: freezing a small piece of leaf tissue in liquid nitrogen (-196 degrees C !) and grinding it as finely as possible. adding a detergent to release the DNA from… Read more »