Posts written by Leon Perrie

Up the volcano: Fiji ferns II

  • Mixed plantation of dalo (taro) and kava, Nabukelevu-ira.  Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • Farewell from Nabukelevu-ira.  Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • Matt von Konrat (right, Field Museum) indicates to Matt Renner that he has five great discoveries from the volcano climb.  Lars (behind) keeps the seat occupied.
  • A few of Matt Renner’s (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney) collections from the summit. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.

A highlight of our Fijian expedition was a trip to Kadavu, a medium-sized island south of Viti Levu.  Kadavu is a priority for Conservation International.  Four species of bird occur there and nowhere else in the world.  However, little is known of Kadavu’s bryophytes, lichens, and ferns, and it was our job to find out. While… Read more »

Ferning in Fiji

  • Maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris.  This is not native to Fiji but has become a common weed around many parts of Suva. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • A young frond of Blechnum milnei, a Fijian endemic that is closely related to New Zealand’s kiokio, Blechnum novae-zelandiae. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • A Hymenophyllum filmy fern competes for space with mosses and liverworts on a tree trunk in cloud forest on the Delainbukelevu volcano. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • Koru (unfurling frond) of a species of Pneumatopteris fern in Fiji.  Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.

I’m lucky to have escaped the end of the New Zealand winter with a work trip to Fiji. This was as part of a Conservation International-funded, international expedition. The trip was led by Matt von Konrat of Chicago’s Field Museum, with local logistics coordinated by Marika Tuiwawa and Alivereti Naikatini of the University of the… Read more »

Animal and plant collections

Te Papa’s Natural Environment team have revamped their webpages. You can access them here. Collection highlights online include: Big fish Medicinal ferns of the second Maori king Unique bird eggs and skeletons Colossal squid Plants collected during Captain Cook’s first expedition GV Hudson insect collection Nests of extinct birds The following links will take you… Read more »

Plants cultivated by Māori

  • Southern Wairarapa karaka grove. © Leon Perrie.
  • Southern Wairarapa whau. © Leon Perrie.
  • Arthropodium bifurcatum in a garden at Victoria University. © Leon Perrie.
  • Southern Wairarapa rengarenga. © Leon Perrie.

Alongside the plants brought from the tropical Pacific, it is thought that Māori cultivated at least a handful of New Zealand plant species. Massey University’s Lara Shepherd is investigating several such plants: karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus), rengarenga (Arthropodium cirratum), and whau (Entelea arborescens). Karaka in Te Papa’s Bush City. Karaka, rengarenga, and whau are all only found… Read more »

Winter Fungi

Geastrum – earthstar. I’ve never seen anything like this before, but very striking. © Leon Perrie.

I know little about fungi, but I can still see that there are plenty around at present. Perhaps they’ve been enjoying the mild start to winter. The following caught my eye during a recent Manawatu Botanical Society field-trip to the Branch Road track in the Pohangina Valley north of Palmerston North. For fungal novices like… Read more »

Handsome Hard Ferns

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  • Black hard fern, Blechnum nigrum. A small ground fern. Its fronds are very dark-green, almost black, and the apex is enlarged and rounded. © Leon Perrie.
  • Kiokio, Blechnum novae-zelandiae.  A medium to large ground fern.  One of the most common ferns in New Zealand.  Often seen hanging from hillsides, cliffs, and road-cuttings, but also common in swamps and forests.  © Leon Perrie.
  • Crown fern, Blechnum discolor.  A medium-sized ground fern, with a distinctive shuttlecock-like appearance.  Can dominate the groundcover over large areas within forests.  Photo Leon Perrie, (c) Te Papa.

Here are two striking and (I think) attractive Blechnum hard ferns. Nigrum is Latin for black.  Colenso’s hard fern is named after William Colenso – printer, missionary, politician, and naturalist – altogether a very extraordinary person.  Biography of William Colenso.  The “hard” part of the name comes, I presume, from the texture of the frond;… Read more »

Bush City’s residents

Mamaku, Cyathea medullaris, in Te Papa's Bush City.  Photo Leon Perrie, (c) Te Papa.

Want to know more about the plants in Bush City? Bush City is Te Papa’s only living, outdoor exhibition. Information about some of the plants in Bush City is now available from Te Papa’s Collections Online. Let me know if you are interested in a plant in Bush City that is not included in the… Read more »

Delight and Disaster in the Rubbish Heap

  • Unripe fruit of poroporo, Solanum laciniatum. Photo © Leon Perrie.
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  • Flowers of the two poroporo. Solanum laciniatum is on the left, Solanum aviculare on the right. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • The two poroporo side-by-side. Solanum laciniatum is on the left, Solanum aviculare on the right. Photo © Leon Perrie.

I’m always keen to add to the number of plants I can recognise. Weeds are a profitable group in that respect. Recently my wife pointed out an interesting looking organic rubbish heap on the grounds of Massey University that was home to an odd-looking Solanum. Imagine my delight when, on closer inspection, I found it… Read more »

Finding rare plants with GW

  • Melicytus obovatus, Titahi Bay. Photo and © Tim Park.
  • Southern shore spleenwort, Asplenium obtusatum, Titahi Bay. Photo and © Tim Park.
  • The green is the Leptinella manitoto, thriving on the dry mud. The red is a species of Crassula. Photo and © Tim Park.
  • Close up of Leptinella maniototo, with several flowering inflorescences, each c. 2 mm across. Its narrow leaves and leaf-segments, and its shortly-stalked inflorescences are distinctive. Photo and © Leon Perrie.

Last week, Antony and I joined Greater Wellington Regional Council staff, Robyn Smith and Tim Park, to check out a few plants that are uncommon locally. The highlight was seeing Tim’s recent discovery of a new population of the button daisy Leptinella maniototo, near Porirua. This is only the second known North Island population, the other… Read more »

Flower of the underworld

A plant of Dactylanthus taylorii, sitting amongst the leaf litter. It is not an especially striking sight when not flowering. Todd saw this population flowering this time last year. Photo Leon Perrie.

I’m just back from my first sighting of the “flower of the underworld”, Dactylanthus taylorii or pua o te reinga. This was a Manawatu Botanical Society trip, led by Todd McLay of Massey University, to see a nearby, accessible population. It was exciting to be shown Dactylanthus taylorii, which is a very odd plant! It is… Read more »