Posts categorized as Plants

Delight and Disaster in the Rubbish Heap

  • Unripe fruit of poroporo, Solanum laciniatum. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • Solanum_laciniatum_fruit
  • Flowers of the two poroporo. Solanum laciniatum is on the left, Solanum aviculare on the right. Photo © Leon Perrie.
  • The two poroporo side-by-side. Solanum laciniatum is on the left, Solanum aviculare on the right. Photo © Leon Perrie.

I’m always keen to add to the number of plants I can recognise. Weeds are a profitable group in that respect. Recently my wife pointed out an interesting looking organic rubbish heap on the grounds of Massey University that was home to an odd-looking Solanum. Imagine my delight when, on closer inspection, I found it… Read more »

Finding rare plants with GW

  • Melicytus obovatus, Titahi Bay. Photo and © Tim Park.
  • Southern shore spleenwort, Asplenium obtusatum, Titahi Bay. Photo and © Tim Park.
  • The green is the Leptinella manitoto, thriving on the dry mud. The red is a species of Crassula. Photo and © Tim Park.
  • Close up of Leptinella maniototo, with several flowering inflorescences, each c. 2 mm across. Its narrow leaves and leaf-segments, and its shortly-stalked inflorescences are distinctive. Photo and © Leon Perrie.

Last week, Antony and I joined Greater Wellington Regional Council staff, Robyn Smith and Tim Park, to check out a few plants that are uncommon locally. The highlight was seeing Tim’s recent discovery of a new population of the button daisy Leptinella maniototo, near Porirua. This is only the second known North Island population, the other… Read more »

Flower of the underworld

A plant of Dactylanthus taylorii, sitting amongst the leaf litter. It is not an especially striking sight when not flowering. Todd saw this population flowering this time last year. Photo Leon Perrie.

I’m just back from my first sighting of the “flower of the underworld”, Dactylanthus taylorii or pua o te reinga. This was a Manawatu Botanical Society trip, led by Todd McLay of Massey University, to see a nearby, accessible population. It was exciting to be shown Dactylanthus taylorii, which is a very odd plant! It is… Read more »

Creating a buzz

Flies, possibly including Helophilus and Calliphora, swarming on the flowers of Aupouri coastal five-finger. (c) Leon Perrie

I was recently surprised to find my plant of Aupouri coastal five-finger (Pseudopanax lessonii) swarming with flies. The flies were attracted to the flowers presumably by a feed of nectar on what was a hot, summer day. I could see at least three fly species, plus a bumblebee. Pollination is not a role we often… Read more »

Bio-blitzing Mana

  • The initial products of five hours on Mana Island: two herbarium presses containing specimens to be identified, plus a plastic bag full of seaweeds collected from beach drift for our phycological colleagues.  Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • Antony being attacked by a head band of Calystegia silvatica (great bindweed). Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • Centaurium erythraea (centaury); a weed from the gentian family. Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • The distinctive forked hairs on the leaves of Leontodon taraxacoides (hawkbit) distinguish it from similar dandelion-type plants. Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.

The Mana Bioblitz  is currently on. A Bioblitz is a count of all the species in an area. I recently visited Mana Island with Antony, one of Te Papa’s Botany Collection Managers, to contribute to the botanical cause.

NZ fern colonises Australia, twice

Asplenium hookerianum

It is not just people crossing the ditch – a little New Zealand fern has also emigrated to Australia, and not just once but twice. This is the first known case amongst ferns or seed plants of the same species dispersing twice across the Tasman Sea. Hooker’s spleenwort fern, or Asplenium hookerianum, is a close… Read more »

Bryophyte Workshop

  • Moss Scorpidium cossonii (with thanks to Peter Beveridge for the identification), in an alpine seepage. Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Moss Tayloria. Often grows on dung! Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Liverwort Schistochila. Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Liverwort Plagiochila. Several sporophytes are evident, albeit enclosed within perianths. Each sporophyte has a black capsule, where the spores are made, and a whitish, fleshy stalk (the seta). Photo by Leon Perrie.

Last December, three Te Papa botanists attended the 2010 John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop, held in Riverton. This is one of the principal ways we acquire new plant specimens. We are still processing the specimens we collected during the 2010 Workshop. Identification of these small plants can take some time, usually requiring microscopic examination…. Read more »

What’s wrong in this picture?

RangiwahiaSR

This is looking toward some podocarp trees (rimu and kahikatea) towering above the canopy, in Rangiwahia Scenic Reserve (western flanks of the Ruahine Ranges). Need a clue?  There is something out of its usual position. You’ll probably have to look closely. Another clue – top centre. Answer: several tens of metres above the ground, reaching… Read more »

Te Papa botanists attend recent systematic botany conference

  • Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass National Park, ASBS 2010 field trip, Dec 2010. Photo by Heidi Meudt, © Te Papa.
  • Andrew Clarke (Otago University) and Heidi Meudt presenting a wiki workshop at the ASBS 2010 conference. Photo by Carlos Lehnebach, © Te Papa.
  • Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass National Park, ASBS 2010 field trip. Photo by Heidi Meudt, © Te Papa.
  • Carlos Lehnebach giving his talk on Uncinia at the ASBS 2010 conference. Photo by Heidi Meudt, © Te Papa.

Botanists from Te Papa recently attended and presented some of their research at the 2010 Australian Systematic Botany Society (ASBS) Conference. Notably, this is only the second time the annual ASBS Conference has been held in New Zealand. The theme of this year’s meeting was, “Systematic botany across the ditch: links between Australia and New… Read more »