Posts written by Leon Perrie

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 »

New Caledonian plants

  • Another threat to New Caledonia’s vegetation is browsing by introduced deer and pigs. Conservation International are trialling using the amount of browse on the fern Orthiopteris firma to monitor the effectiveness of animal control projects. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • New Caledonia has a higher GDP per capita than New Zealand, principally due to nickel and copper mining. Mining operations are widely evident. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The large areas covered by Melaleuca trees are very reminiscent of Australia. But they are also testament to one of the major threats to New Caledonia’s vegetation – fire. The fern Dicranopteris linearis flourishes amongst the Melaleuca regeneration. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • As I knelt to collect a fern, I was stunned to find myself surrounded by pitcher plants, Nepenthes vieillardii. The ‘pitchers’ are traps for catching insects. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Below are photos of some of the botanical/landscape highlights from the recent expedition to New Caledonia that I participated in. But first, a bit of background: New Zealand and New Caledonia both sit on the (largely) submerged continent Zealandia, which separated from Australia and the rest of Gondwana some 60-80 million years ago. Wikipedia’s page… Read more »

Going (Lady) Gaga over ferns

The rock fern, Cheilanthes sieberi, a New Zealand relative of the newly re-named Gaga ferns. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

USA fern taxonomists have created a minor stir after re-classifying a group of central American ferns into a new genus named Gaga, after the singer Lady Gaga. Abstract of the article formally naming the new genus Gaga. Youtube video of the taxonomists discussing their research. The researchers say the naming for Lady Gaga was in… Read more »