Posts written by Leon Perrie

Recognition for Te Papa plant researcher

Phil Garnock-Jones, 2013 winner of the Nancy Burbidge medal in Australasian systematic botany.

Congratulations to Phil Garnock-Jones on being awarded the Nancy Burbidge medal, for his longstanding and significant contribution to Australasian systematic botany. Phil is the first New Zealander to receive the award, which is the highest bestowed by the Australasian Systematic Botany Society. Systematic botany is the study of the relationships, naming, and classification of plants. Australasian Systematic… Read more »

Moss, liverwort, and lichen Workshop

  • Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey collecting a moss near National Park.   The collected material is stored in an envelope folded from a sheet of A4 paper; each collection goes into a separate envelope. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • A so-called leafy liverwort, Lepidolaena.  Most liverworts, and many mosses, are usually found in damp, shaded habitats; I’ve taken this one to a sunny spot for a better photograph.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • A crustose lichen, semi-embedded in the surface of a rock, high on Mount Ruapehu.  The black patches at left are the moss Andreaea, an alpine specialist.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Dicranoloma mosses are one of the forest-dominants in New Zealand.  They are not big (although they are quite big for a moss), but they are very common.  This is Dicranoloma menziesii.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Nearly 50 people are attending this year’s John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop in Ohakune.  Bryophytes include mosses and liverworts.  The Workshop is a focussed opportunity to study these small plants.  Although usually overlooked, they actually make a huge contribution to forest biomass and functioning.  Mosses and liverworts reproduce by spores, as do ferns.  Spores… Read more »

Forgotten Highway ferns

  • Umbrella fern, tapuwae kotuku, Sticherus cunninghamii.  Most species in this family have fronds that repeatedly split into two. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Sweet fern, Pteris macilenta.  The reproductive structures are in lines along the margins of the frond segments, and the veins are obviously netted (diverging and coming back together). Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Single crape fern, heruheru, Leptopteris hymenophylloides.  Although translucent like a filmy fern, this species grows much bigger and the spore-producing structures are scattered over the frond undersides.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Hairy fern, Lastreopsis hispida.  A shield fern with its reproductive structures in circular aggregates, this species is easily recognised by the hairy bristles on its frond stalk. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Three of Te Papa’s botanists (plant scientists) are currently at the annual John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop, held this year in Ohakune.    A small group including the Te Papa team spent the week before the Workshop exploring the Forgotten Highway (State Highway 43) between Stratford and Taumarunui, for mosses and liverworts, and ferns as… Read more »

Mining Denniston

Part of the area at Denniston set to be opencast-mined. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

The mining on Denniston has been given the go-ahead by the Environment Court. Radio New Zealand report on the approval of the Bathurst Escarpment mine. The mine application covers just over one square kilometre. According to a report by the Department of Conservation, there are within that area at least eight plants and animals that… Read more »

A new species of filmy fern

The newly-described rainforest filmy fern, Hymenophyllum pluviatile. Photo Leon Perrie. Copyright Te Papa.

Te Papa’s biodiversity scientists regularly describe new species of plants and animals. Just added to this list is another New Zealand fern. This new species is a Hymenophyllum filmy fern. Hymenophyllum means thin-leaved. The fronds of most species are only one cell thick, giving them a translucent appearance. We have named the new species Hymenophyllum… Read more »

A native species re-recorded for Wellington

  • Underside of a frond of Asplenium lamprophyllum, showing the comparatively long sori (reproductive structures). Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Asplenium lamprophyllum. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Distribution map of Asplenium lamprophyllum, based on specimens in Te Papa’s herbarium. Other herbaria have records of the species from northern Taranaki and Whanganui. Click for a page with a zoomable map.
  • Asplenium_lamprophyllum_2_Ngauranga4_reduced

The Wellington Botanical Society has just added* (* actually it is confirmed, rather than added; see update below) another species to the list of native plants known from Wellington – the fern Asplenium lamprophyllum. To find (* rediscover) such a relatively big species so close to New Zealand’s capital city may seem a little surprising. Just… Read more »

Dotted landscapes in Aboriginal art

Balls of grey-green grasses dotting the red earth of the opposing hillside across the valley. The scale is misleading – note the gum tree at top-centre. © Leon Perrie.

One of the sections in the current incarnation of the Ngā Toi, Arts Te Papa exhibition showcases a selection from Te Papa’s collection of Australian Aboriginal art. The show Gifted: Aboriginal Art 1971 – 2011 includes Papunya Tula paintings created in the 1970’s in a community near Alice Springs with a style of Aboriginal art… Read more »

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 »