Posts categorized as Plants

Last week Te Papa Botany curator Leon Perrie and I attended the Uawa BioBlitz in Tolaga Bay. Organized by the Allan Wilson Centre and Groundtruth, the BioBlitz was an intense 24 hours of species discovery. Scientists from a variety of organisations were joined by members of the local community, including kids from the Tolaga Bay… Read more »

Living life on the edge – plants of screes

Notothlaspi australe, Parachute Rock track, Lake Rotoiti.  Photo: Lara Shepherd.

Looking at the photos below, you wouldn’t expect these unstable rockslides, called screes, to be home to anything. But take the time to look a little closer and you’ll find a number of native New Zealand plants that have adapted to living in just such seemingly inhospitable environments. In early January I spent a week… Read more »

Help us make discoveries

Garden two-spined spider, Poecilopachus australasia. Auckland. rfdawn CC BY-NC

Interested in the ‘outdoors’? Want to learn more about the animals and plants around you? Want to make discoveries? Perhaps even find a new species? Want to help (1) Te Papa with its scientific research and (2) New Zealand better understand and manage its biodiversity? Sounds like the citizen science projects accompanying the DeCLASSIFIED! exhibition… Read more »

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 »