Posts written by Leon Perrie

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 »

Curiosities, world-firsts, and monsters – fern spotting in Wellington

  • A so-called monstrous or crested frond of hound’s tongue fern, Microsorum pustulatum. The lobes of the fronds of hound’s tongue fern do not normally fork at their apices. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • First record of the hybrid between Polystichum neozelandicum and P. silvaticum. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • The reproductive structures of Polystichum silvaticum are naked, lacking the shield-like protective coverings that characterise its relatives. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Polystichum_silvaticum_6784_WrightHill4

On Saturday I joined the Wellington Botanical Society’s field trip to Wright Hill in Karori, Wellington. Wellington city would not be my first choice of locality for fern spotting, but we still found plenty to keep me interested. The filmy ferns Hymenophyllum flexuosum and Trichomanes endlicherianum are always pleasing finds. Although widespread, they are not… Read more »

Glowing wood and foxfire

I recently had an enquiry from someone who noticed during the middle of the night that their pile of split firewood was emitting a faint glow. What could cause this?! Apparently there are fungi that grow in rotting wood that can emit light through luminescence. The phenomenon is sometimes called “foxfire”. I’ve never noticed this… Read more »

Te Papa’s snail expert awarded doctorate

Bruce Marshall. © Te Papa.

Congratulations to Bruce Marshall, Te Papa’s Collection Manager Molluscs, who was recently honoured with a Doctor of Science by Victoria University of Wellington. Molluscs are the group of animals that includes snails, slugs, shellfish, squids and octopuses. Doctor of Science degrees are awarded for exceptionally significant contributions to a field of science. Bruce has described… Read more »

Te Radar’s vegetable with charisma

Ota dina, Diplazium dietrichianum (or D. esculentum), Fiji.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Which vegetables do you think have charisma?  In Tuesday night’s television programme Radar Across The Pacific, comedian Te Radar was given “fiddle fern” to eat.  He seemed to be impressed by it, describing it as having charisma. Te Radar was eating the young, unfurling fronds of a fern.  These still-coiled fronds are variously called croziers… Read more »