Posts categorized as Bryophytes

Goodbye to the lettuce liverwort – it’s going extinct

A cluster of Petalophyllum preissii plants, with my finger for scale. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

A highlight of my recent South Island fieldwork was helping to survey the last remaining New Zealand population of the liverwort Petalophyllum preissii.  It’s a distinctive looking plant, a bit like a little lettuce, and about the size of a fingernail. Seeing it was special because I likely won’t have the opportunity again.  You’ll probably never… Read more »

Plant collecting in south Canterbury and Marlborough

On our first collecting day, we set a new elevation record for Te Papa’s new 4WD, with 1100 m on Mount Studholme near Waimate.  We smashed that with 1700 m on our last collecting day, on top of Marlborough’s Black Birch Range.  The snow-capped Tapuae-o-Uenuku of the Inland Kaikoura Range is the backdrop. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

An important function for Te Papa’s natural history collections is to document the plants and animals we have in New Zealand. What species are present, how can they be distinguished, and where do they occur? These questions need addressing before our biodiversity, both indigenous and exotic, can be managed in an informed manner. It is… Read more »

Today is World Habitat Day and this week is World Space Week. I’m observing both of these events by databasing bryophyte (moss and liverwort) botany specimens which are habitat for space travellers. Bryophytes are among the ‘preferred’ habitat for microscopic animals called tardigrades, otherwise known as waterbears or moss piglets.  Although, tardigrades aren’t that fussy about… Read more »

Celebration of personal milestones in the Botany collection

Peter Beveridge using a hand lens to examine a bryophyte specimen, amongst subalpine vegetation.

Collections are at the heart of a museum. A museum’s exhibitions and research are built from its collections. The significance of collections means it is important to acknowledge those who have contributed. Te Papa’s Botany collection of plant specimens has recently seen notable milestones for two of its biggest contributors: Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey and… Read more »

Te Papa botanical research at Otari-Wilton’s Bush


For many years, Te Papa botanists have included Otari-Wilton’s Bush collections in their research. Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve is a special place in Wellington–“the only public botanic garden in New Zealand dedicated solely to native plants”. This makes it an important educational and research resource for the city’s inhabitants. Over two days… 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 »

Snares Islands Flora: bryophytes & lichens

  • Caption: A trick for young players! Asplenium gametophytes and young plants. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa.
  • Caption: A new record of liverwort for the Snares -the leafy liverwort genus Aneura (centre-left) growing with moss Pyrrhobryum bifarium (sporophytes visable) on a rotting Olearia stem in a gully. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa. (Field of view c. 15cm)
  • Fern Blog Ph 11 - Resized
  • Caption: A new moss record for the Snares Islands - Tayloria purpurascens! Te papa collection item M041684. On the right you can see the leafy gametophyte (gamete plant). And on the left, the stalk-like structure is the sporophyte (spore plant) which develops from female reproductive organs on the gametophyte. (Field of view c. 4cm)

One of our research goals on the Snares Islands was to collect non-vascular plants.  Non-vascular plants include mosses, liverworts and hornworts (collectively known as bryophytes) and lichens. Mosses have two main life stages – the gametophyte stage and sporophyte stage.  Both stages are visible in images on this post. The gametophyte (gamete plant)  leafy stage produces the… Read more »

Moss, liverwort, and lichen Workshop

  • Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey collecting a moss near National Park.   The collected material is stored in an envelope folded from a sheet of A4 paper; each collection goes into a separate envelope. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • A so-called leafy liverwort, Lepidolaena.  Most liverworts, and many mosses, are usually found in damp, shaded habitats; I’ve taken this one to a sunny spot for a better photograph.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • A crustose lichen, semi-embedded in the surface of a rock, high on Mount Ruapehu.  The black patches at left are the moss Andreaea, an alpine specialist.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Dicranoloma mosses are one of the forest-dominants in New Zealand.  They are not big (although they are quite big for a moss), but they are very common.  This is Dicranoloma menziesii.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Nearly 50 people are attending this year’s John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop in Ohakune.  Bryophytes include mosses and liverworts.  The Workshop is a focussed opportunity to study these small plants.  Although usually overlooked, they actually make a huge contribution to forest biomass and functioning.  Mosses and liverworts reproduce by spores, as do ferns.  Spores… Read more »