Posts categorized as Plants

Forest icing sugar – Clematis

Close up of a male flower of Clematis paniculata.  Copyright Leon Perrie.

Many New Zealand forests are sprinkled with white at this time of the year. The indigenous Clematis are flowering, and particularly striking with its large white flowers is Clematis paniculata (puawhananga, white clematis). There is a plant of Clematis paniculata flowering wonderfully at present in Te Papa’s Bush City, at the harbour-end of the upper… Read more »

Practical conservation

  • The Manawatu Botanical Society, plus neighbour, strategising beforehand. Photo Graham Pritchard.
  • Pseudopanax ferox & botsoccers
  • Viv McGlynn. Photo Graham Pritchard.
  • The juvenile leaves of the Taihape population are a comparatively dark colour. This might be unique to the population. Photo Leon Perrie.

I first got into studying biodiversity because I wanted New Zealand’s plants and animals to be looked after better.  New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity is not in great shape. A lot of my research at Te Papa – describing new species, distinguishing and mapping different species, and determining how populations and species are related to one another… Read more »

William Colenso Bicentenary – conference registrations open

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This year marks the bicentenary of William Colenso’s birth (1811-1899). In celebration our colleagues at the Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery, Napier are hosting a bicentennial event this coming November (9 – 13 November 2011). The aim of the bicentenary is to explore the highly complex character of Colenso ‘in the round’ – as ‘a talented polymath, at… Read more »

Up the volcano: Fiji ferns II

  • Mixed plantation of dalo (taro) and kava, Nabukelevu-ira.  Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • Farewell from Nabukelevu-ira.  Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • Matt von Konrat (right, Field Museum) indicates to Matt Renner that he has five great discoveries from the volcano climb.  Lars (behind) keeps the seat occupied.
  • A few of Matt Renner’s (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney) collections from the summit. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.

A highlight of our Fijian expedition was a trip to Kadavu, a medium-sized island south of Viti Levu.  Kadavu is a priority for Conservation International.  Four species of bird occur there and nowhere else in the world.  However, little is known of Kadavu’s bryophytes, lichens, and ferns, and it was our job to find out. While… Read more »

Ferning in Fiji

  • Maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris.  This is not native to Fiji but has become a common weed around many parts of Suva. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • A young frond of Blechnum milnei, a Fijian endemic that is closely related to New Zealand’s kiokio, Blechnum novae-zelandiae. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • A Hymenophyllum filmy fern competes for space with mosses and liverworts on a tree trunk in cloud forest on the Delainbukelevu volcano. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • Koru (unfurling frond) of a species of Pneumatopteris fern in Fiji.  Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.

I’m lucky to have escaped the end of the New Zealand winter with a work trip to Fiji. This was as part of a Conservation International-funded, international expedition. The trip was led by Matt von Konrat of Chicago’s Field Museum, with local logistics coordinated by Marika Tuiwawa and Alivereti Naikatini of the University of the… Read more »

Animal and plant collections

Te Papa’s Natural Environment team have revamped their webpages. You can access them here. Collection highlights online include: Big fish Medicinal ferns of the second Maori king Unique bird eggs and skeletons Colossal squid Plants collected during Captain Cook’s first expedition GV Hudson insect collection Nests of extinct birds The following links will take you… Read more »

Plants cultivated by Māori

  • Southern Wairarapa karaka grove. © Leon Perrie.
  • Southern Wairarapa whau. © Leon Perrie.
  • Arthropodium bifurcatum in a garden at Victoria University. © Leon Perrie.
  • Southern Wairarapa rengarenga. © Leon Perrie.

Alongside the plants brought from the tropical Pacific, it is thought that Māori cultivated at least a handful of New Zealand plant species. Massey University’s Lara Shepherd is investigating several such plants: karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus), rengarenga (Arthropodium cirratum), and whau (Entelea arborescens). Karaka in Te Papa’s Bush City. Karaka, rengarenga, and whau are all only found… Read more »

Winter Fungi

Geastrum – earthstar. I’ve never seen anything like this before, but very striking. © Leon Perrie.

I know little about fungi, but I can still see that there are plenty around at present. Perhaps they’ve been enjoying the mild start to winter. The following caught my eye during a recent Manawatu Botanical Society field-trip to the Branch Road track in the Pohangina Valley north of Palmerston North. For fungal novices like… Read more »

Handsome Hard Ferns

  • Blechnum_discolor_NothofagusForest_DeanForest
  • Black hard fern, Blechnum nigrum. A small ground fern. Its fronds are very dark-green, almost black, and the apex is enlarged and rounded. © Leon Perrie.
  • Kiokio, Blechnum novae-zelandiae.  A medium to large ground fern.  One of the most common ferns in New Zealand.  Often seen hanging from hillsides, cliffs, and road-cuttings, but also common in swamps and forests.  © Leon Perrie.
  • Crown fern, Blechnum discolor.  A medium-sized ground fern, with a distinctive shuttlecock-like appearance.  Can dominate the groundcover over large areas within forests.  Photo Leon Perrie, (c) Te Papa.

Here are two striking and (I think) attractive Blechnum hard ferns. Nigrum is Latin for black.  Colenso’s hard fern is named after William Colenso – printer, missionary, politician, and naturalist – altogether a very extraordinary person.  Biography of William Colenso.  The “hard” part of the name comes, I presume, from the texture of the frond;… Read more »