Posts written by Leon Perrie

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 »

Learn ferns in Wellington

Loxsoma cunninghamii, in cultivation at Otari-Wilton's Bush.  This is the only species in the genus Loxsoma, and it is only found in New Zealand, where it grows naturally in the northern North Island.  Photo Leon Perrie.

Are you interested in learning more about ferns, and in the Wellington region? Te Papa’s Curator of Botany Leon Perrie is leading a walk through the fernery at the wonderful Otari-Wilton’s Bush: Sunday 24th March 2013, beginning 2pm from the Otari Information Centre.

Guide to Fijian tree ferns

Cyathea lunulata, recognisable by its pale scales and frond stalks.  The most prominent tree fern in the Fijian lowlands. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Te Papa.

An abundance of tree ferns is one of the botanical characteristics that New Zealand shares with many of the larger Pacific Islands. The number of different species is not especially high, but tree fern individuals feature prominently in many Pacific and New Zealand landscapes. Following my work in Fiji, I’ve produced an online guide to… Read more »

Fern stamps

New Zealand Post has just released a series of postage stamps featuring five New Zealand ferns. The illustrations are excellent. Images of the stamps, from New Zealand Post’s website. The five ferns featured are: hen and chickens fern, Asplenium bulbiferum – $0.70 kidney fern, Cardiomanes reniforme – $1.40 Colenso’s hard fern, Blechnum colensoi – $1.90… Read more »

More tangle – a new species of tangle fern

  • Frond underside of Gleichenia inclusisora. The white and flattish frond segments are one of its distinctive features. The undersides of the frond segments of Gleichenia dicarpa are whitish but pouched, while those of Gleichenia microphylla are flat but green. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa
  • Except when very young, the lower stems of Gleichenia inclusisora are usually naked of scales or hairs, in contrast to the other Gleichenia species in New Zealand. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • All four Gleichenia species presently recognised in New Zealand can grow together, to the extent of intertwining. Gleichenia inclusisora most commonly co-occurs with Gleichenia dicarpa. Gleichenia inclusisora (right) often has a shinier upper-surface, sometimes allowing the two species to be distinguished at a distance. However, this doesn’t always work as well as it does in this photo! Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Close-up of the frond underside of Gleichenia inclusisora. The reproductive structures (sori) each comprise three sporangia (which produce the spores, the yellow dots) embedded in a pit in the frond. Some empty pits are visible. The distinctive rounded, bicoloured scales can also be seen at top left. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I’d like to introduce a new species of New Zealand fern, Gleichenia inclusisora. Our scientific description was published just before Christmas 2012. The recognition of this species edges the number of native New Zealand fern and lycophyte species nearly to 200. Abstract of paper describing Gleichenia inclusisora. Email me if you would like a pdf… Read more »

Wild plants in town – a homage

  • I love the way plants grow / all over the place. / Weeds, I read once, / are ‘plants out of place’. / But, who’s to say? / Who’s to say?  Image © to and courtesy of jMj.
  • Epuni Street / Aerial roots / a source of / endless fascination for me. / What am I taking in / from the air / just by / being in it.  Image © to and courtesy of jMj.
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  • Above Strathmore. / 6” Coastal battery / on the Hills above Strathmore / 70th Heavy Battery / Guns. Not much beside remains. / Taupata - / 6” too?  Image © to and courtesy of jMj.

Plants can grow in what appear to be the strangest places.  This can be frustrating for property owners (e.g., grass in the gutter; footpaths cracked by pohutukawa roots). But our view of plants is often from our own animal-centric perspective; unlike our zoological kin, an individual plant doesn’t have the option of moving to a… Read more »

Jovellana sinclairii flowering in Bush City

Flowers of Jovellana sinclairii, in Te Papa’s Bush City. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Te Papa’s Bush City is currently graced by a good display of sprays of the white, bell-like flowers of Jovellana sinclairii. If you’re visiting, you can see them beside the waterfall, on the lower track. Jovellana sinclairii is not a common plant in the wild. You’re most likely to find this large herb beside streams… Read more »