Posts written by Leon Perrie

Ambiguous plant life – art daisies and hard ferns

Colenso’s hard fern, Blechnum colensoi, with a fertile frond at centre. That it is brown rather than black indicates that the spores have largely been shed. Photo: Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Alan Reynolds’s Saga is one of the paintings currently on display in Te Papa’s Ngā Toi exhibition. It is described as a winter landscape, with dead plants bursting from the frozen earth. Ngā Toi’s On The Wall description. Amongst the bleakness, my eyes are drawn to just-a-little-right of centre, where the white elongate structure with… Read more »

Arthropteris climbing ferns

Arthropteris_tenella_climbing_reduced

I’m a co-author of a just-published scientific paper examining the evolution and classification of the Arthropteris climbing ferns. The paper was a real international collaboration, involving authors from China, Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. It is unclear how many species there are of Arthropteris – probably somewhere between 10 and 20. They occur… Read more »

The long-and-short of lycophytes

Phylloglossum drummondii, less than 2 cm tall, in a Northland swamp.  For scale, there is a manuka fruit in the background.  Photo © Leon Perrie.

I don’t do plant-free holidays, and one of the species I wanted to photograph during my recent Northland holiday was the tiny and rare Phylloglossum drummondii. This diminutive plant has a Nationally Critical conservation ranking, because of its low numbers and the destruction of its swamp habitat. Finding it necessitates a winter (or early spring) field trip,… Read more »

Re-planting New Zealand

Karo (Pittosporum crassifolium), which is native to the northern North Island, smothering the locally-native Melicytus obovatus at Titahi Bay, Wellington.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

In regard to Bob Brockie’s recent article in the Dominion Post (24 June 2013, page A8), here is some rationale for viewpoints about plants that some commentators have teasingly called “eco-fascism”. Instead, they are logical expressions about the conservation of New Zealand’s biota and ecosystems, including their genetic integrity. For any effort claiming to be… Read more »

Learn ferns in Wellington, 2

Are you interested in learning more about ferns, and in the Wellington region? The talk in March was so popular that Otari have asked me back for round two.  I’ll lead a walking-talk through the fernery at the wonderful Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Sunday 23rd June 2013, beginning 2pm from the Otari Information Centre. Interested in learning… Read more »

Compensating for ecological harm

Within the site of the proposed mine at Denniston.  Photo Leon Perrie. (c) Te Papa.

Economic development can have adverse effects on the natural environment. Nowadays, many developments involve mitigating negative effects or compensating for them by ‘trading’ a positive outcome in return for permission to proceed. But how effective are these compensatory efforts in New Zealand? Answer: oftentimes, not very, according to one of the talks at the recent… Read more »

Plant Conservation Conference and weedy native plants

Pittosporum crassifolium (karo) is native to the northern North Island. However, it has been widely cultivated, and is now spreading aggressively in many places. In Titahi Bay, karo threatens to displace locally-native species, including some of conservation significance. In the photo, karo is overtopping, and will eventually displace, the locally-native Melicytus obovatus. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa

I’m just back from the 2013 conference of the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, where I presented a talk about weedy native plants. The programme of talks included updates on the conservation status of New Zealand’s plants, and the new system being implemented by the Department of Conservation to prioritise management of ecosystems and species…. Read more »

Would you mine a rare population?

The umbrella fern Sticherus tener at a site within the planned Escarpment Mine on the Denniston Plateau. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

The Escarpment Mine on the Denniston Plateau has been tentatively approved by the Environment Court, subject to suitable mitigation plans. One of the issues that may be under consideration is what to do about the site’s population of the Sticherus tener umbrella fern. Scoop news report: “…tentative nod for Denniston mine plan”. Sticherus tener has… Read more »

The amazing longfin eel

A longfin eel.  This female hasn't bred yet, and she will do so only once, after swimming to somewhere between New Caledonia and Fiji.  Photo (c) Alton Perrie.

This week the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report on the status and management of the longfin eel. It was entitled “On a pathway to extinction?” The report found that the management of longfin eels by New Zealand government agencies was inadequate and failing. It further recommended the cessation of commercial fishing of… Read more »

How to learn ferns

  • Close up of the scales of Cyathea (left) and the hairs of Dicksonia (right). Photos Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • Trichomanes venosum. In Trichomanes, the reproductive structures are enclosed by a tubular, often trumpet-like structure. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Cardiomanes reniforme, kidney fern. More closely related to Hymenophyllum than Trichomanes, although the reproductive structures are at least superficially more similar to the latter. Photo Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie.
  • Tmesipteris elongata, a fork fern. More closely related to ferns than to seed plants or lycophytes. Nevertheless, the relationship is a distant one, and it doesn’t look very fern like. There are at least five species in New Zealand, and they are usually epiphytic on tree ferns. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Last weekend I was out with the Kapiti-Mana branch of Forest and Bird, giving them an introduction to ferns. A few weeks back, I gave a similar walking-talk at Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington. Many people find ferns an appealing group to learn. Aside from their iconic status in New Zealand, good learning resources are available, and… Read more »