Posts written by Leon Perrie

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 »

The small and the weedy: Foxton field trip

  • A huddle of prostrate people peering intently at the ground; can only mean a botanical society has fixated on some small plant. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • The botanical society did not progress far through the tangled swamp forest vegetation of Round Bush/Omarupapako Scenic Reserve. However, we went far enough to encounter karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus) and to debate its merits in the southern North Island, where some people consider it to be weedy. The large trunk at centre is a podocarp, while the trunk to the immediate left is a tall and reproducing but not particularly old karaka. Karaka seedlings are evident in the foreground. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Arrowgrass, Triglochin striata, is not actually a grass, and belongs to the unusual monocot family Juncaginaceae. The arrangement of the flowers and the narrow leaves are distinctive. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Intermixed Selliera rotundifolia, with the round leaves, and Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae, with the jointed linear leaves. Selliera rotundifolia is only found in the south-west of the North Island. Photo © Leon Perrie.

I spent a couple of days of the long weekend with the Wellington Botanical Society, exploring the Foxton area, between Whanganui and Palmerston North. Much of the first and second days were spent in the sand dunes between Himatangi and Foxton Beach, and at Koitiata near Turakina.  Some surprising things can become weedy in the… Read more »

A name change for strap ferns

Reproductive structures on the frond underside of Notogrammitis billardierei. Photo Leon Perrie. (c) Te Papa.

I recently co-authored a paper with Barbara Parris that investigated the scientific classification and naming of New Zealand’s strap ferns. If you’ve spent any time in New Zealand’s forests, you will have almost certainly seen the common strap fern. It has simple, undivided fronds up to 20 cm long, but usually much less. It is… Read more »