Posts written by Leon Perrie

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 »

Creating a buzz

Flies, possibly including Helophilus and Calliphora, swarming on the flowers of Aupouri coastal five-finger. (c) Leon Perrie

I was recently surprised to find my plant of Aupouri coastal five-finger (Pseudopanax lessonii) swarming with flies. The flies were attracted to the flowers presumably by a feed of nectar on what was a hot, summer day. I could see at least three fly species, plus a bumblebee. Pollination is not a role we often… Read more »

Bio-blitzing Mana

  • The initial products of five hours on Mana Island: two herbarium presses containing specimens to be identified, plus a plastic bag full of seaweeds collected from beach drift for our phycological colleagues.  Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • Antony being attacked by a head band of Calystegia silvatica (great bindweed). Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • Centaurium erythraea (centaury); a weed from the gentian family. Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • The distinctive forked hairs on the leaves of Leontodon taraxacoides (hawkbit) distinguish it from similar dandelion-type plants. Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.

The Mana Bioblitz  is currently on. A Bioblitz is a count of all the species in an area. I recently visited Mana Island with Antony, one of Te Papa’s Botany Collection Managers, to contribute to the botanical cause.

NZ fern colonises Australia, twice

Asplenium hookerianum

It is not just people crossing the ditch – a little New Zealand fern has also emigrated to Australia, and not just once but twice. This is the first known case amongst ferns or seed plants of the same species dispersing twice across the Tasman Sea. Hooker’s spleenwort fern, or Asplenium hookerianum, is a close… Read more »

Bryophyte Workshop

  • Moss Scorpidium cossonii (with thanks to Peter Beveridge for the identification), in an alpine seepage. Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Moss Tayloria. Often grows on dung! Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Liverwort Schistochila. Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Liverwort Plagiochila. Several sporophytes are evident, albeit enclosed within perianths. Each sporophyte has a black capsule, where the spores are made, and a whitish, fleshy stalk (the seta). Photo by Leon Perrie.

Last December, three Te Papa botanists attended the 2010 John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop, held in Riverton. This is one of the principal ways we acquire new plant specimens. We are still processing the specimens we collected during the 2010 Workshop. Identification of these small plants can take some time, usually requiring microscopic examination…. Read more »

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 »