Posts written by Leon Perrie

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 »

What’s this mystery object?

What's this?

Two clues: it’s small, and has never been imaged before. Post any guesses below.  I’ll post the answer next week, if nobody has got it by then.

Common ferns

Hound's tongue fern, Microsorum pustulatum.

Would you like to learn to recognise some of New Zealand’s ferns? “Fernland” was an early colloquial name for New Zealand, so it’s almost patriotic to be able to recognise a few of the country’s ferns! I’ve put together notes and images for 13 common species, showing how to distinguish them and where you might find… Read more »

Talk: mapping NZ’s plants

Hooker’s spleenwort fern (Asplenium hookerianum) and its distribution in New Zealand based on specimens in Te Papa’s collection.

Next Tuesday night (27th March), I’m giving a talk at Wellington’s Otari Wilton’s Bush about how (and why) maps are generated from dried plant specimens in collections like those of Te Papa. I’ll also introduce some of the new internet tools that are making distribution information about New Zealand’s plants more readily available. Details: 7.30pm,… Read more »

A new fern, Lastreopsis kermadecensis

The newly described Lastreopsis kermadecensis, from Raoul Island in the Kermadecs.  Photo by and courtesy of Peter de Lange.

Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey and I have just described a new species of fern, Lastreopsis kermadecensis.  It only occurs on Raoul Island, which is the largest island in the Kermadec Islands group.  Hence, the second part of the new species name! The Kermadec Islands are the most northern part of the New Zealand… Read more »

Plant Hunt at Hokio, Levin

Ophioglossum coriaceum. Adams, Nancy. Purchased 2006. © Te Papa.

Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey was recently contacted about a population near Levin of the very rare Ophioglossum petiolatum. Ophioglossum are odd looking ferns, as befits a common name of “adder’s tongue ferns”.  We don’t have a picture of O. petiolatum (stalked adder’s tongue fern), but the related O. coriaceum is similar; O. petiolatum… Read more »

Poo moss

Tayloria moss, near Riverton.  Photo Leon Perrie, (c) Te Papa.

Tayloria mosses belong to the wonderfully named Splachnaceae family, and grow on dung and carcasses! Such substrates are unusual for mosses, and Tayloria has several adaptations for its specialist life-style.  Mosses reproduce by spores, which in most cases are dispersed by the wind, and may or may not land in a suitable place for the… Read more »

Rare success – rediscovery of several bryophyte species

The moss Dicranoweisia spenceri on a branch of a beech tree, Tongariro area.  Photo Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.

Te Papa’s botanists made several significant finds during their explorations accompanying the recent Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop. Led by Research Associate Peter Beveridge and Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey, the moss Dicranoweisia spenceri was found in some abundance at the site we investigated within Tongariro National Park.  This is great news because this is only the… Read more »

How Te Papa contributes to plant conservation

A specimen of the moss Dicranoweisia spenceri in Te Papa’s collection. This species has a conservation ranking of “Data deficient”; that is, not enough is known about its occurrence to classify the level of threat it faces. © Te Papa.

In the next two weeks, some of Te Papa’s Botany staff will be looking for several poorly known mosses and liverworts. For instance, the moss Dicranoweisia spenceri was recorded more than 60 years ago from near Mount Ruapehu but it hasn’t been reported from there since – is it still there? We’re going to check…. Read more »