Posts written by Leon Perrie

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 »

Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin 2012

Mänuka, Leptospermum scoparium. One of many native plants put to many uses. Captain Cook used it with rimu to make beer.

The botanically-inclined may find something of interest in the just-published Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin. Number 54 includes: the uses of some common native plants. notes on the propagation of native plants. accounts of the diatoms and bryophytes recorded during the 2011 bioblitz on Mana Island. the use of names in botany. detailed accounts of the… Read more »

Help with floating fern

Azolla plants often become red in full sunlight, and they can become so abundant that they carpet ponds, drains, and other still bodies of water. This is Azolla filiculoides in a pond on Mana Island, Wellington. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I’ve recently learnt that the introduced Azolla pinnata (ferny azolla) has been found in the Wellington region. I’m interested in its distribution and would be grateful for help in looking for more. Azolla plants are fairly easy to spot: look for a red plant covering still bodies of water. Azolla are ferns, believe it or… Read more »

Where to find new species?

Biodiversity-treasure - inside one of Te Papa’s two botany collection stores.  Copyright Te Papa.

Where would you go to find a new species? Perhaps somewhere remote and little-visited, especially if it is ecologically unusual – New Caledonia maybe… Well, instead, how about inside Te Papa’s collections, because that’s where I first discovered a new species of Gleichenia tangle fern. A lot of biodiversity remains to be documented, particularly amongst… Read more »