Posts categorized as Plants

Pat Brownsey and the cave-dwelling spleenwort

  • Cave spleenwort (Asplenium cimmeriorum). Image: Leon Perrie, Te Papa
  • Pat Brownsey. Image: Te Papa
  • Poor Knights spleenwort, Tatua Peak, Aorangi, Poor Knights Islands. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Pat Brownsey and Antony Kusabs searching for mosses in a vineyard (yeah right). Waipukurau Bryophyte Foray, December 2011. Image: Leon Perrie, Te Papa

Pat Brownsey is a fern specialist who joined the National Museum (now Te Papa) botany team in 1977, and is still finding fern mysteries to solve. Pat moved to New Zealand in 1973 after completing a PhD on ferns at the University of Leeds. The abundance and diversity of ferns in Aotearoa has kept him… Read more »

Nancy Adams, Wendy Nelson and the Three Kings’ seaweeds

  • Nancy Adams – National Museum staff portrait, August 1976. Photograph by Trevor Ulyatt. Te Papa MA_E.000345/031
  • $1.80 ’Three Wise Men’ Christmas stamp, 2009, Wellington, by Stephen Fuller, Southern Colour Print. The New Zealand Post Museum Collection, Gift of New Zealand Post Ltd., 1992. Te Papa PH001431
  • Wendy Nelson holding the New Zealand Marine Sciences Award that she received in 2007. Photographer Alan Blacklock, reproduced courtesy NIWA
  • Curdiea balthazar W.A.Nelson et al., collected 24 November 1998, Archway Island, Princes Islands, Three Kings Islands. Te Papa herbarium sheet A029596

The three kings (or three wise men or magi) are Christian icons – but how many people are aware that they have seaweeds named after them? The connection is via the Three Kings Islands north-west of Cape Reinga. Known as Manawatahi to Māori, they are one of only two localities in New Zealand that have… Read more »

W.R.B. Oliver – jack-of-all-trades and master of most

  • Chatham Island red-crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae chathamensis Oliver, 1930) – named by Oliver in his first edition of New Zealand birds. Image: Dave Crouchley, Department of Conservation/New Zealand Birds Online
  • Reginald Oliver collecting plants at Wilmot Pass, Fiordland, March 1927. Image by J.T. Salmon, Dominion Museum. Te Papa (MA_B.014931)
  • Dominion Museum building, 1984 (then known as the National Museum). Image: Mark Strange, Te Papa (MA_B.016888)
  • IShepherd’s beaked whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi Oliver 1937) stranded at Ōteranga Bay, Wellington, September 1998. Photograph by Peter Simpson, Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai (10041750)

Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You called me WHAT?!’ is open on Level 3 until the end of 2016. The exhibition, and this series of blogs, explore the history of the museum by showcasing some… Read more »

Allan Thomson and the Cenozoic brachiopods

  • J. Allan Thomson (1881-1928). Image: Journal of Science and Technology Vol. 10 no. 2
  • Fossil lamp shell (brachiopod) Rhizothyris amygdala Thomson, 1920; holotype BR.001348, Hutchinson's Quarry, Oamaru, greensands
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  • Fossil lamp shell (brachiopod) Pachymagas hectori Thomson, 1920; holotype BR.001339, Landon Creek, near Oamaru, greensands. Named after Allan Thomson’s predecessor as Director of the Colonial Museum (later Dominion Museum), Sir James Hector

Our national museum’s third director was New Zealand’s first Rhodes Scholar, but was cut down in his prime. Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You called me WHAT?!’ is open on Level 3 until the end… Read more »

Unforgettable names for a new forget-me-not species

https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/visit/whats-on/exhibitions/you-called-me-what-150-years-scientific-discovery-te-papa

We asked you to suggest a species name for a newly discovered New Zealand forget-me not. In addition to some creative descriptive and geographic names, many of your suggestions were commemorative. The practice of naming species after famous people (real or fictional) dates back over 250 years. Are such names just a gimmick, or an effective means of promoting… Read more »

When do crops lose genetic variation? The case of rengarenga.

The delicate flowers of rengarenga with their multicoloured stamens.

The shift from hunting and gathering to cultivating crops and livestock was one of the most important developments in human history. But despite its significance, many questions still remain about how crops were first domesticated. One much debated question has been at what point during domestication is genetic diversity lost? Many modern crops have very… Read more »

Sir James Hector and the Kerguelen connection

  • Lyallia kerguelensis, Ile Mayes, Iles Kerguelen. Image: Colin Miskelly, IPEV / Te Papa
  • Hectorella caespitosa, Sealy Range, Southern Alps. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa
  • Commerson's dolphin, Golfe du Morbihan, Iles Kerguelen. Image: Colin Miskelly, IPEV / Te Papa
  • Hector’s dolphin. Image: Steve Dawson, New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust

The Kerguelen Islands are among the most remote islands on the planet, lying in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean about 7300 km west of New Zealand (or 17,000 km east if you prefer). Yet they have at least two unlikely connections with New Zealand – a plant and a dolphin. And both are… Read more »

A glimpse of ancient Mauritius: Ile aux Aigrettes, restoration island

  • White-tailed tropicbird chick being hand-fed, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Mauritius fodies: male (left) and female (right), Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Pink pigeon, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Telfair's skink, Ile aux Aigrettes. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

I first heard of Ile aux Aigrettes at a conference on island pest eradications held in Auckland in early 2001. A delegate from Mauritius spoke about a failed attempt to eradicate Indian musk shrews from the 25 ha island, which had already been cleared of feral cats and ship rats. The island next registered in… Read more »