Posts written by Leon Perrie

What’s wrong in this picture?

RangiwahiaSR

This is looking toward some podocarp trees (rimu and kahikatea) towering above the canopy, in Rangiwahia Scenic Reserve (western flanks of the Ruahine Ranges). Need a clue?  There is something out of its usual position. You’ll probably have to look closely. Another clue – top centre. Answer: several tens of metres above the ground, reaching… Read more »

Happy flowering holidays

  • Thelymitra sun orchid.
  • Dolichoglottis
  • Leonohebe (Veronica) cupressoides, a kind of 'whipcord' hebe.
  • Helichrysum coral daisy.

If you get into the hills these summer holidays, you’ll find many plants are in flower.  Many of New Zealand’s flowers aren’t particularly showy. But pay them closer investigation and many will reward you with a subtle beauty. Here’s a selection from my just completed field-work throughout the South Island, where my pursuit of Gleichenia tangle-ferns… Read more »

Pohutukawa flowering

PohutukawaFlowers

Pohutukawa are presently flowering strongly in many parts of the country, including the trees planted around Te Papa. What does this tell us about the weather?  National Radio’s Morning Report investigates. Because of its often spectacular summer flowering, pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) is regarded as New Zealand’s own indigenous Christmas tree.  I don’t know for sure… Read more »

Native plants for your garden

Titoki, Alectryon excelsus.

Do you live in the Wellington region, want to have native plants in your garden, but don’t know what to choose? Then the Greater Wellington Regional Council has produced just what you need: the Wellington Regional Native Plant Guide.  I attended the recent launch of the revised 2010 edition. Wellington Regional Native Plant Guide. Lists… Read more »

Fern Teaching Resource

Microsorum pustulatum, Hound's Tongue Fern.  (c) Te Papa.

Ferns now feature on the Science Learning Hub. Ferns at the Science Learning Hub. You can find out more about: What exactly is a fern? How ferns are identified and classified. The origins of New Zealand’s ferns. The role of a botany curator. The hen and chickens fern. And a whole lot more… Te Papa… Read more »

Queensland attractions

  • Unfurling fronds of the Ptisana (Marattia) oreades, a relative of para, New Zealand’s king fern.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The attractive cycad Bowenia spectabilis.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Flowering inflorescence of the root parasite Balanophora.  This is related to New Zealand’s bat-pollinated Dactylanthus.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • New Zealanders are pretty familiar with the koru, an unfurling fern frond.  But Australia’s prickly tree fern, Cyathea leichhardtiana, does it a bit differently.  It unfurls the leafy parts of a frond only after the “stem” parts of the frond (technically the rachis and the costae) are nearly fully extended.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Despite my previous post, Queensland’s rainforests were far from entirely unpleasant.  The below caught me eye (and of course there were lots of interesting ferns too!). New Zealand’s king fern.

Vampires in the leaf litter

  • A Dendrocnide stinger tree. This nettle-relative packs a particularly nasty poisonous punch if you have the misfortune to touch any part of it (including the trunk!). Not as ferocious-looking as our tree nettle, but I’m reliably informed the sting is worse. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • An echidna. A monotreme mammal like the platypus. Cute but spiky. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Spikes on the stems of rattan palms. These palms also had fine, hanging trendils, which were easy to walk into because they were hard to see, but difficult to subsequently escape because they had barbed spikes. Photos by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The impressively armed leaf of what we believe is a Solanum (relative of tomato, potato, and poroporo). Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

There’s trauma in this leaf litter – can you see it?! A downside to fieldwork in Australia is the number of things that will bite, impale, or otherwise injure. We had several wet days when the leeches were out in force. At one site, half of our group suffered a leech in the eye –… Read more »

Queensland fern fieldwork

Asplenium carnarvonense is only known from a few gorges in inland southern Queensland. The gorges provide respite for ferns and other moisture-loving plants in what is otherwise an arid landscape. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I was recently in Queensland, Australia, working with colleagues from the University of Melbourne to collect ferns for DNA analyses. We were principally after the spleenwort Asplenium ferns, and drove large distances in pursuit of the different species. 27 of Australia’s 30 species of Asplenium occur in Queensland, which has a rich fern diversity. New… Read more »

Big travels for little ferns

Lindsaea trichomanoides. (c) Leon Perrie.

Lindsaea are small dainty ferns that are easily overlooked. Three species are indigenous to New Zealand. Recent DNA-based research (Lehtonen et al. 2010) implies that each got here independently; i.e., there were three separate dispersal events. This is because the three species in New Zealand are each more closely related to an overseas species than… Read more »

Fat pigs and beech trees

Left: Nothofagus solandri leaves with flower buds. Right: close up of open flowers. (c) Leon Perrie

Dave Kelly (University of Canterbury) recently talked to the Wellington Botanical Society about mast seeding. Mast seeding is where individuals of a plant species synchronously produce unusually large seed crops every few years. There is often no regular cycle. New Zealand is a world centre for mast seeding (and research on mast seeding). Some New… Read more »