Posts written by Lara Shepherd

Charles Darwin was unimpressed with the south coast of Western Australia when he visited in March 1836 calling it ‘dull and uninteresting’. If, however, he had visited during the spring wildflower season its likely he would have come to the opposite conclusion. These days botanically-inclined tourists, such as myself, flock to southwestern Australia during wildflower season…. Read more »

Last week Victoria University MSc student Delaney Burnard and I had a quick trip to the South Island to collect lycophytes for Delaney’s research. Lycophytes are sometimes called “clubmosses”, but they are not related to mosses. They are actually more closely related to ferns and seed plants. Lycophytes differ from seed plants in lacking seeds,… Read more »

Past and present fauna of Mt Owen, north-west Nelson

A speargrass weevil (Lyperobius clarkei) on an on the speargrass Aciphylla ferox speargrass.

As well as impressive plants, Mount Owen and the Marino Mountains are also zoologically interesting. The wet weather may have prevented us reaching the summit of Mount Owen but it did bring out the slugs and snails. We spotted a giant leaf-veined slug (Amphikonophora gigantea) beside the track on the lower flanks of the mountain…. Read more »

The fascinating flora of Mount Owen, north-west Nelson.

Aciphylla ferox (fierce speargrass) growing out of a marble fissure on the flanks of Mount Owen. Photo: Lara Shepherd.

Over the holidays I was fortunate to spend a few days botanising the Marino Mountains, including Mount Owen, in north-west Nelson’s Kahurangi National Park.  Kahurangi National Park  is one of the most botanically interesting regions in New Zealand. Nearly half of New Zealand’s native plant species and 80% of our alpine species are found there…. Read more »

Newly described fern named after Te Papa curator

An unfurling frond of a Dicksonia perriei, Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie

A new species of tree fern has recently been named after Te Papa botany curator and fern expert Leon Perrie. The fern, Dicksonia perriei, occurs only in New Caledonia mostly on acidic soils at altitudes above 1000m, in areas of high rainfall. The new species is related to the three other New Caledonia Dicksonia species and to the… Read more »

Save Kiwi Week

Te Papa researcher Sarah Jamieson with an adult female North Island brown kiwi. Photo credit: Kyle Morrison.

This week is Save Kiwi week. Te Papa researchers have a long history of studying kiwi. Our kiwi researchers include: Sarah Jamieson, who previously worked at Massey University studying the breeding ecology and habitat preferences of North Island brown kiwi. Alan Tennyson, who led the formal description of a new kiwi species – rowi/Okarito brown kiwi (Apteryx… Read more »

Poor Knights lily: a stunning, yet undervalued, New Zealand native plant

Poor Knight’s lilies in a garden next to the Welsh Dragon Bar, bordered by Wakefield and Kent Terraces. Photo credit: Lara Shepherd

Something spectacular is happening around Wellington – Poor Knights lilies (Raupo taranga; Xeronema callistemon) are bursting into flower! In contrast to the tiny inconspicuous white flowers typical of many New Zealand endemic plants, Poor Knights lilies have bright red flower spikes that look a little like bottlebrushes. But despite these flamboyant displays Poor Knight’s lilies… Read more »

Making sense of snarge

Snarge identified as long tailed skua. Photo by Alan Tennyson.

Birds can cause serious damage to aircraft. A recent example is the 2009 US Airways flight that hit a flock of Canada geese on take-off and had to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River. In this case no one was seriously injured but there are many examples of fatalities caused by bird strikes…. Read more »