Posts categorized as Biodiversity

Dotted landscapes in Aboriginal art

Balls of grey-green grasses dotting the red earth of the opposing hillside across the valley. The scale is misleading – note the gum tree at top-centre. © Leon Perrie.

One of the sections in the current incarnation of the Ngā Toi, Arts Te Papa exhibition showcases a selection from Te Papa’s collection of Australian Aboriginal art. The show Gifted: Aboriginal Art 1971 – 2011 includes Papunya Tula paintings created in the 1970’s in a community near Alice Springs with a style of Aboriginal art… Read more »

Ambiguous plant life – art daisies and hard ferns

Colenso’s hard fern, Blechnum colensoi, with a fertile frond at centre. That it is brown rather than black indicates that the spores have largely been shed. Photo: Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Alan Reynolds’s Saga is one of the paintings currently on display in Te Papa’s Ngā Toi exhibition. It is described as a winter landscape, with dead plants bursting from the frozen earth. Ngā Toi’s On The Wall description. Amongst the bleakness, my eyes are drawn to just-a-little-right of centre, where the white elongate structure with… Read more »

Arthropteris climbing ferns

Arthropteris_tenella_climbing_reduced

I’m a co-author of a just-published scientific paper examining the evolution and classification of the Arthropteris climbing ferns. The paper was a real international collaboration, involving authors from China, Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. It is unclear how many species there are of Arthropteris – probably somewhere between 10 and 20. They occur… Read more »

The long-and-short of lycophytes

Phylloglossum drummondii, less than 2 cm tall, in a Northland swamp.  For scale, there is a manuka fruit in the background.  Photo © Leon Perrie.

I don’t do plant-free holidays, and one of the species I wanted to photograph during my recent Northland holiday was the tiny and rare Phylloglossum drummondii. This diminutive plant has a Nationally Critical conservation ranking, because of its low numbers and the destruction of its swamp habitat. Finding it necessitates a winter (or early spring) field trip,… Read more »

Banks’ black and white engravings – now imaged and online!

Brachyglottis repanda Forster & G. Forster, 1895 Parkinson. A common coastal, forest and lower montane New Zealand species.

  It took many hours of sorting, registration, taxonomy review, preparation and coordination, then 12 long sessions in the imaging lab.  Te Papa Science staff have now completed the online access for 2241 black & white engravings of plants collected on Captain Cook’s first voyage. The Te Papa Collection Online narratives about the Banks and Solander black and white engravings… Read more »

Re-planting New Zealand

Karo (Pittosporum crassifolium), which is native to the northern North Island, smothering the locally-native Melicytus obovatus at Titahi Bay, Wellington.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

In regard to Bob Brockie’s recent article in the Dominion Post (24 June 2013, page A8), here is some rationale for viewpoints about plants that some commentators have teasingly called “eco-fascism”. Instead, they are logical expressions about the conservation of New Zealand’s biota and ecosystems, including their genetic integrity. For any effort claiming to be… 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 »

For the love of birds

NZ Birds Online screenshot - Tiny forest birds

We have recently launched NZ Birds Online, an encyclopaedia of New Zealand birds. I have been involved in this project for 18 months, from the IT side of things, and it’s been an absolute pleasure all along! I’m an identification geek (among other geekily obsessions). If I have taken a photo of a fern, or… Read more »