Posts written by Leon Perrie

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 »

West Coast Fern Fieldwork 2012, 4 – new, problematic, and interesting species

  • The cave spleenwort, Asplenium cimmeriorum, only occurs in limestone areas of the west coasts of both the North and South Islands. It is commonly found at cave entrances. We found a new sub-population in the Charleston Conservation Area. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • We found the lycophyte Lycopodiella cernua at a site near Haast, further south than the Okarito limit noted in the literature. Interestingly, this species also occurs in the tropics! Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Lycopodiella_cernua_KnightsPoint2
  • Some authorities treat the small plants at lower right as a distinct species, swamp kiokio (Blechnum minus). Others regard them as part of a variable kiokio (Blechnum novae-zelandiae), big plants of which are at left. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Along with the Gleichenia and Sticherus, we were targeting a possible new species of Hymenophyllum filmy fern. We also made collections of several ‘problem’ species and other interesting finds. Cave spleenwort’s distribution based on Te Papa’s collections. Other blog posts about our West Coast fern fieldwork cover: What we were doing. Where we went. Sticherus… Read more »

Transit of Venus Botany

Today is the transit of Venus, when that planet passes in front of the sun. Hopefully the bad weather blanketing much of New Zealand doesn’t preclude at least some people from observing the event. Observing the transit was one of Captain Cook’s primary objectives for the Endeavour expedition, and this was done in Tahiti in… Read more »

West Coast Fern Fieldwork 2012, 1 – what we were doing

Gleichenia ferns often grow entangled with one another and with other plants; hence their common name of tangle ferns.  But our understanding of them is also in a tangle.  Two or three species are currently recognised in New Zealand, but I think there are at least five.  The picture is of a new species.  It looks similar to the others from above, but very different when viewed from below.  I hope to formally describe it in a year or so.  Then I will be able to show you the differences.  Our fieldwork significantly extended the known occurrences of this fern.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I’m just back from 10 days collecting ferns in the South Island’s West Coast. From previous collections, we knew of several currently unrecognised species of fern that occur on the West Coast. We investigated these records, visiting the sites to collect more material for our studies and to assess the plants in the field, including… Read more »