Posts categorized as Plants

Constantly clearing copyright: Colour prints from the Banks’ Florilegium

  • Leptopteris hymenophylloides (A. Richard) C. Presl; Plate 584
  • Collospermum hastatum (Colenso) Skottsberg; Plate 557
  • Vitex lucens Kirk; Plate 525
  • Calystegia tuguriorum (G. Forster) R. Brown ex Hooker f.; Plate 512

Rights Manager Victoria Leachman highlights the latest items to be cleared for Collections Online: a series of beautiful, hand-coloured Banks’ Florilegium copperplate engravings. Part of the role of the rights team at Te Papa is to clear copyright in collection items so Te Papa staff can take and use images. The latest licence negotiated by Catriona… Read more »

Myrtle rust: why local New Zealand species are under threat

Myrtle rust is characterised by yellow pustules. Photo by Scot Nelson.

Sadly, the discovery of more sites in New Zealand infected with myrtle rust suggests that it is here to stay. Originally from South America, myrtle rust invaded Australia in 2010 and rapidly spread.  Botanist Lara Shepherd discusses what Australian scientists have discovered about myrtle rust over the last seven years. What does myrtle rust infect?… Read more »

Coastal kōwhai in the south of its range – natural or planted?

Coastal kōwhai (Sophora chathamica). This species can be distinguished from other kōwhai species by its overlapping leaflets and lack of divaricating stage when it is young. Photo by Leon Perrie.

Science researcher Lara Shepherd explores the distribution of kōwhai in New Zealand – largely found in the north and likely introduced in the south.  Coastal kōwhai (Sophora chathamica) has a very unusual distribution. Some of its outlying populations are suggested to have been planted by Maōri. We recently published our research studying the relationships of all eight New Zealand kōwhai… Read more »

Cuckoos and their toxic prey – ‘urticated’ inside and out

  • Shining cuckoo. Photograph by Nathan Hill, New Zealand Birds Online
  • SC_SW53098
  • Red admiral butterfly caterpillar (pale morph). Photograph by Norm Twigge
  • Red admiral butterfly (Vanessa gonerilla). Photograph by Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Cuckoos can stomach toxic caterpillars, but it appears they are also impervious to being stung externally, as bird expert Colin Miskelly discovers. A previous blog on this topic referred to shining cuckoos seeking out and eating prey that are toxic to other birds – including caterpillars with urticating hairs. ‘Urticating’ refers to hollow spines that… Read more »

What can kōwhai tell us about the location of New Zealand’s forests during the ice ages?

  • A flower-laded large-leaved kōwhai (Sophora tetraptera) from the Wairarapa. Photo: Leon Perrie
  • A flower-laded large-leaved kōwhai (Sophora tetraptera) from the Wairarapa.
  • Collecting genetic samples from prostrate kōwhai (Sophora prostrata) on the POrt Hills. This species is restricted to the eastern South Island and has zig-zag branches with small leaves and flowers. Photo: Leon Perrie.
  • Collecting genetic samples from prostrate kōwhai (Sophora prostrata) on the POrt Hills. This species is restricted to the eastern South Island and has zig-zag branches with small leaves and flowers. Photo: Leon Perrie.

Science researcher Lara Shepherd explores kōwhai trees, one of New Zealand’s most widely recognised native plants and our unofficial national flower. Did you realise that we actually have eight species of kōwhai in New Zealand? Our DNA research investigating the relationships of these kōwhai species and where kōwhai trees were located during the ice ages has… Read more »

Congratulations to Pat Brownsey who has just been awarded the New Zealand Journal of Botany annual prize for 2016. In even-numbered years, this prize is for “established researchers”. This is “awarded to a person who has made a sustained contribution to the journal during the last five years (regularly publishing and reviewing papers), and whose… Read more »

A new species of fern for New Zealand, Asplenium lepidotum

The abundance of scales on the upper surface of young fronds is a distinguishing feature for Asplenium lepidotum.  These scales appear as black dots.  Photo by Leon Perrie.  © Te Papa.

Finding and naming new species is a core part of the job for Te Papa’s scientists.  More than 2500 animal and plant species have been named by museum staff since 1865.  A recent example is the fern Asplenium lepidotum, described by myself and Pat Brownsey.  This brings the number of indigenous ferns and lycophytes in… Read more »

Botanic gardens: our outdoor museums and why they matter

Hobbits enjoying the hobbit hole at the Oldenburg Botanic Garden. Sept 2016. Photo by Heidi Meudt.

My name is Heidi Meudt and I’m a Research Scientist in Botany at Te Papa, currently doing taxonomic research on New Zealand’s native forget-me-nots. As part of my job, I attend scientific conferences in New Zealand and overseas. Over the course of my botany travels during September, I’ve managed to visit five botanic gardens in three different… Read more »