Posts categorized as Plants

Subantarctic forget-me-not adventures

  • Sealion pups at Sandy Bay, Enderby Island. Photo by Jessie Prebble
  • Yellow-eyed penguin showing us the track on Enderby Island. Photo by Jessie Prebble
  • Fields of Bulbinella rossii on Enderby Island. Photo by Jessie Prebble
  • Myosotis antarctica on Mt Azimuth, Campbell Island. Definitely not a mega-herb! Photo by Jessie Prebble

From the 23rd-30th of December 2013 I was given the opportunity to join Rodney Russ and his team at Heritage Expeditions on board the Spirit of Enderby for a week long adventure to the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands. Link to the Heritage Expeditions website with information about their scholarship The Heritage Expedition Trust awards several… Read more »

Newly described fern named after Te Papa curator

An unfurling frond of a Dicksonia perriei, Mt Panie, New Caledonia. Photo: Leon Perrie

A new species of tree fern has recently been named after Te Papa botany curator and fern expert Leon Perrie. The fern, Dicksonia perriei, occurs only in New Caledonia mostly on acidic soils at altitudes above 1000m, in areas of high rainfall. The new species is related to the three other New Caledonia Dicksonia species and to the… Read more »

Recognition for Te Papa plant researcher

Phil Garnock-Jones, 2013 winner of the Nancy Burbidge medal in Australasian systematic botany.

Congratulations to Phil Garnock-Jones on being awarded the Nancy Burbidge medal, for his longstanding and significant contribution to Australasian systematic botany. Phil is the first New Zealander to receive the award, which is the highest bestowed by the Australasian Systematic Botany Society. Systematic botany is the study of the relationships, naming, and classification of plants. Australasian Systematic… Read more »

Seaweed, seaweed everywhere and not a plant to eat

What type of crab is this?

Like many Kiwis, to me there are only three types of seaweed: Seaweed Beachus – seaweed washed up at the beach; Seaweed Sushius – seaweed used in sushi; and Seaweed Fish Linius – seaweed that your fishing line gets tangled in. But that terrible seaweed joke, aside from demonstrating my woeful ignorance of seaweed, doesn’t… 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 »

Forgotten Highway ferns

  • Umbrella fern, tapuwae kotuku, Sticherus cunninghamii.  Most species in this family have fronds that repeatedly split into two. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Sweet fern, Pteris macilenta.  The reproductive structures are in lines along the margins of the frond segments, and the veins are obviously netted (diverging and coming back together). Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Single crape fern, heruheru, Leptopteris hymenophylloides.  Although translucent like a filmy fern, this species grows much bigger and the spore-producing structures are scattered over the frond undersides.  Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Hairy fern, Lastreopsis hispida.  A shield fern with its reproductive structures in circular aggregates, this species is easily recognised by the hairy bristles on its frond stalk. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Three of Te Papa’s botanists (plant scientists) are currently at the annual John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop, held this year in Ohakune.    A small group including the Te Papa team spent the week before the Workshop exploring the Forgotten Highway (State Highway 43) between Stratford and Taumarunui, for mosses and liverworts, and ferns as… Read more »

A plague of flax weevils – a conservation hyper-success story

  • Dead flax bushes as the flax weevil release site on Mana Island, Nov 2013. Image: Jeff Hall, Department of Conservation
  • Tui feeding on flax nectar. Image: Craig McKenzie, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Flax weevils on a flax flower stalk at night on Mana Island, Nov 2013. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Flax weevils browse on an immature flax flower spike at night on Mana Island, Nov 2013. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Most people think of weevils as little maggoty grubs that infest stored grain products. Which is true, but the reality is that the weevil family is the most diverse family of organisms on the planet, with more than 50,000 species. Weevils are beetles, and adults are characterised by having a long snout and antennae bent… Read more »