Posts written by Lara Shepherd

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 »

New Zealand plants abroad part 2: the troublemakers.

Cordyline australis on the Munro Trail, Lanai Island, Hawaii. Photo by Forest and Kim Starr (http://www.starrenvironmental.com/)

My previous blog featured New Zealand native plants that are cultivated overseas. However, some of our native plants, including many of the species I recently saw in UK gardens, have gone ‘rogue’ and are considered invasive species in some countries. For example our pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas tree; Metrosideros excelsa) is invading parts of South… Read more »

New Zealand plants abroad.

  • Kohukohu (Pittosporum tenuifolium) in a front garden in Bristol, UK. Photo credit: Lara Shepherd.
  • A broadleaf (Griselinia littoralis) hedge by a row of terrace houses, Bristol, UK. Photo credit: Lara Shepherd.
  • Flaxes (Phormium tenax), hebes and kohukohu in a suburban garden in Bristol, UK. Photo credit: Lara Shepherd.
  • White flowered hebe in a town planting in the Bristol town centre. Photo credit: Lara Shepherd.

New Zealand plants have a long history of cultivation overseas. In the UK one of the most well known New Zealand plants is the ‘Torquay palm’, which we know as the cabbage tree (Cordyline australis). Cabbage trees, which botanically-speaking are not palms, were first grown in the UK in the early nineteenth century. This species… Read more »

Ferns of Bristol’s stone walls

  • Maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes). Photo credit: Lara Shepherd.
  • Common polypody (Polypodium vulgare). Photo credit: Lara Shepherd.
  • Two forms of wall rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria). The plant on the right reminds me of New Zealand blanket fern. Photo credit: Lara Shepherd
  • The sori of Asplenium scolopendrium, said to look like centipede legs. Photo credit: Lara Shepherd

Whilst recently holidaying in Bristol in the UK I was amazed at the abundance and variety of ferns growing on the stone walls around the city.  The spleenwort or Asplenium ferns seem to be the most common ferns of this habitat. This genus also occurs in New Zealand and includes our hen and chickens fern. … Read more »