Posts categorized as Plants

Learn ferns in Wellington

Loxsoma cunninghamii, in cultivation at Otari-Wilton's Bush.  This is the only species in the genus Loxsoma, and it is only found in New Zealand, where it grows naturally in the northern North Island.  Photo Leon Perrie.

Are you interested in learning more about ferns, and in the Wellington region? Te Papa’s Curator of Botany Leon Perrie is leading a walk through the fernery at the wonderful Otari-Wilton’s Bush: Sunday 24th March 2013, beginning 2pm from the Otari Information Centre.

Guide to Fijian tree ferns

Cyathea lunulata, recognisable by its pale scales and frond stalks.  The most prominent tree fern in the Fijian lowlands. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Te Papa.

An abundance of tree ferns is one of the botanical characteristics that New Zealand shares with many of the larger Pacific Islands. The number of different species is not especially high, but tree fern individuals feature prominently in many Pacific and New Zealand landscapes. Following my work in Fiji, I’ve produced an online guide to… Read more »

Fern stamps

New Zealand Post has just released a series of postage stamps featuring five New Zealand ferns. The illustrations are excellent. Images of the stamps, from New Zealand Post’s website. The five ferns featured are: hen and chickens fern, Asplenium bulbiferum – $0.70 kidney fern, Cardiomanes reniforme – $1.40 Colenso’s hard fern, Blechnum colensoi – $1.90… Read more »

More tangle – a new species of tangle fern

  • Frond underside of Gleichenia inclusisora. The white and flattish frond segments are one of its distinctive features. The undersides of the frond segments of Gleichenia dicarpa are whitish but pouched, while those of Gleichenia microphylla are flat but green. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa
  • Except when very young, the lower stems of Gleichenia inclusisora are usually naked of scales or hairs, in contrast to the other Gleichenia species in New Zealand. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • All four Gleichenia species presently recognised in New Zealand can grow together, to the extent of intertwining. Gleichenia inclusisora most commonly co-occurs with Gleichenia dicarpa. Gleichenia inclusisora (right) often has a shinier upper-surface, sometimes allowing the two species to be distinguished at a distance. However, this doesn’t always work as well as it does in this photo! Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Close-up of the frond underside of Gleichenia inclusisora. The reproductive structures (sori) each comprise three sporangia (which produce the spores, the yellow dots) embedded in a pit in the frond. Some empty pits are visible. The distinctive rounded, bicoloured scales can also be seen at top left. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I’d like to introduce a new species of New Zealand fern, Gleichenia inclusisora. Our scientific description was published just before Christmas 2012. The recognition of this species edges the number of native New Zealand fern and lycophyte species nearly to 200. Abstract of paper describing Gleichenia inclusisora. Email me if you would like a pdf… Read more »

Is this the world’s biggest nettle leaf?

Ongaonga leaf - note the ruler starts at 500 mm.

Whilst recently chasing seabirds on Titi Island we came across tree nettles (ongaonga, Urtica ferox) with super-sized leaves. The largest leaf we measured was 28 cm long, much longer than the maximum leaf length of 18 cm given for this species in the Flora of New Zealand. Perhaps the abundant seabird droppings on this island… Read more »

Wild plants in town – a homage

  • I love the way plants grow / all over the place. / Weeds, I read once, / are ‘plants out of place’. / But, who’s to say? / Who’s to say?  Image © to and courtesy of jMj.
  • Epuni Street / Aerial roots / a source of / endless fascination for me. / What am I taking in / from the air / just by / being in it.  Image © to and courtesy of jMj.
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  • Above Strathmore. / 6” Coastal battery / on the Hills above Strathmore / 70th Heavy Battery / Guns. Not much beside remains. / Taupata - / 6” too?  Image © to and courtesy of jMj.

Plants can grow in what appear to be the strangest places.  This can be frustrating for property owners (e.g., grass in the gutter; footpaths cracked by pohutukawa roots). But our view of plants is often from our own animal-centric perspective; unlike our zoological kin, an individual plant doesn’t have the option of moving to a… Read more »

Oops-a-daisy! How many flowers do you see?

  • Marlborough rock daisy disc floret (top) and ray floret (bottom). Note the long petal on the ray floret.
  • Marlborough rock daisy ray floret.
  • Marlborough rock daisy disc floret. Note the reduced petals and long stigma.
  • Marlborough rock daisies (Pachystegia insignis).

How many flowers do you see in the photo below? Two is the obvious answer, but there are far more than two flowers in the picture. Each daisy ‘flower’ is actually made up of numerous tiny flowers, also called florets. The Marlborough rock daisies pictured above have two types of florets. Around the outside are… Read more »

Herbarium specimen preparation of succulent plants

  • Cotyledon orbiculata, Hue te Taka Peninsula. Photo: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa.
  • Cotyledon orbiculata specimen. The clear bag will be folded and placed in the left hand packet. Photo: Jean-Claude Stahl, Te Papa
  • Cotyledon orbiculata, pig's ear, Hue te Taka Peninsula. Photo: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa
  • Cotyledon orbiculata (pig's ear) leaf, with refuse of the skinning process in background. Photo: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa.

Part of my role as Collection Manager at Te Papa herbarium is contributing to the further development of our dried plant collection. At the herbarium we are interested in collecting indigenous and naturalised New Zealand plant species for future scientific investigation and as an historical record. One of our recent collection development projects focused on… Read more »