Posts categorized as Plants

Tangle ferns untangled

The undersides of the four species of Gleichenia tangle fern accepted for New Zealand. From top: alpine tangle fern, Gleichenia alpina; tangle fern, waewae-kötuku, Gleichenia dicarpa; pitted tangle fern, Gleichenia inclusisora; carrier tangle, matua-rarauhe, Gleichenia microphylla. Scale bar = 2 cm. Composite image © Te Papa.

A focus for my research in 2014 has been preparing an account on the Gleicheniaceae fern family for the online Flora of New Zealand. More on the revolutionary online Flora of New Zealand. The Gleicheniaceae in New Zealand comprises nine species in the genera Dicranopteris (one species, restricted to central North Island thermal areas), Gleichenia… Read more »

A Natural History of Christmas Part 2: Underneath the mistletoe…..

Red mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetela) Temple Stream, Ram Hill, Otago. Photo: Leon Perrie.

Christmas trees, carol singing, Christmas stockings – many Northern Hemisphere Christmas traditions have been brought to New Zealand. One that we haven’t ‘embraced’ is kissing under the mistletoe. I wonder why not? Is it because of our reserved kiwi natures or is it our mistletoes…….? There are around 1300 species of mistletoe worldwide and all are… Read more »

A blue fairy, pink candy, a crab-lipped spider, several donkeys and a flying duck.

  • Lilac sun orchid (Thelymitra cornicina), Maringup. Photo: Leon Perrie.
  • Slender hammer orchid (Drakaea gracilis), Albany. Photo: Lara Shepherd.
  • Tall leek orchid (Prasophyllum elatum), Balingup. Photo: Leon Perrie.
  • Flying duck orchid (Paracaleana nigrita), Maringup. Photo: Leon Perrie.

Not only do south-western Australian orchids have imaginative common names but their flowers are arguably some of the most stunning in this biodiversity hotspot. The flowers of the 320 or so species have a wide range of colours and shapes. Many orchids don’t produce nectar to attract insects to spread their pollen, instead using deception… Read more »

An invasion of pink ragwort.

Pink ragwort plant, coast near Titahi Bay. Photo: Lara Shepherd

If you have recently travelled along SH1 between Wellington and Paekakariki you may have noticed that some of the roadside cuttings and banks are tinged with pink. The culprit is the daisy pink ragwort (Senecio glastifolius). Pink ragwort is native to a small area of coastline in South Africa and was first recorded in New Zealand in Gisborne… Read more »

A new tree fern

The newly recognised Dicksonia lanata subsp. hispida. Fairly common in the northern North Island, usually in kauri forests. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

New Zealand has a new tree fern – kind of. Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey and I have recently recognised a subspecies within the stumpy tree fern, tuokura, Dicksonia lanata.  The new name is Dicksonia lanata subspecies hispida.  It is only kind of a new tree fern, as it was first recognised as something different… Read more »

Rongoā Māori | Māori Medicine Part 2

  • Rongoa-Kawakawa-Waikanae
  • Rongoa Kawakawa Waikanae_080
  • Rongoa Kawakawa Waikanae_077
  • Rongoa Kawakawa Waikanae_070

Tēnā ano tātou – thank you for all of your support for last week’s blog! It is such an extraordinary privilege working with our Kaumatua and Kuia and sharing their kōrero with you. Feeding back the response from all the readers is ‘icing on the cake’. Here is our next instalment by our Kuia, Rihia Kenny, about… Read more »

New Zealand’s second nicest-smelling flowers now in bloom!

A cluster of lemonwood flowers. Photo: Lara Shepherd

Have you noticed a strong sweet smell while walking past any trees lately? You might be smelling the flowers of lemonwood/tarata (Pittosporum eugenioides). This native New Zealand tree is better known for its lemon-scented leaves than its flowers, which are small and pale. However, the flowers produce an almost overpowering honey-like fragrance when they bloom… Read more »

Earlier this year we welcomed Ngāti Toa Rangatira into Te Papa to fill our iwi gallery and to be our iwi in residence for two and a half years. Together with iwi leadership from Ngāti Toa and Te Papa, the exhibition ‘Whiti Te Rā! The Story of Ngāti Toa Rangatira’, and a host of events have been created for you… Read more »

Help hunt for kakabeak

Kakabeak (kowhai ngutu-kākā, Clianthus maximus) in cultivation in Wellington. Photo © Leon Perrie.

If you’re on the east coast of the North Island during this spring and summer, the Department of Conservation would like your help! Please look out for wild plants of the striking, red-flowered kakabeak. Department of Conservation’s blog post “Keep an eye out for kakabeak”. Kakabeak (kowhai ngutu-kākā, Clianthus maximus) is now Critically Endangered. Its… Read more »