Posts written by Leon Perrie

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 »

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.