Posts categorized as Plants

Where to find new species?

Biodiversity-treasure - inside one of Te Papa’s two botany collection stores.  Copyright Te Papa.

Where would you go to find a new species? Perhaps somewhere remote and little-visited, especially if it is ecologically unusual – New Caledonia maybe… Well, instead, how about inside Te Papa’s collections, because that’s where I first discovered a new species of Gleichenia tangle fern. A lot of biodiversity remains to be documented, particularly amongst… Read more »

New Caledonian plants

  • Another threat to New Caledonia’s vegetation is browsing by introduced deer and pigs. Conservation International are trialling using the amount of browse on the fern Orthiopteris firma to monitor the effectiveness of animal control projects. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • New Caledonia has a higher GDP per capita than New Zealand, principally due to nickel and copper mining. Mining operations are widely evident. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The large areas covered by Melaleuca trees are very reminiscent of Australia. But they are also testament to one of the major threats to New Caledonia’s vegetation – fire. The fern Dicranopteris linearis flourishes amongst the Melaleuca regeneration. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • As I knelt to collect a fern, I was stunned to find myself surrounded by pitcher plants, Nepenthes vieillardii. The ‘pitchers’ are traps for catching insects. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Below are photos of some of the botanical/landscape highlights from the recent expedition to New Caledonia that I participated in. But first, a bit of background: New Zealand and New Caledonia both sit on the (largely) submerged continent Zealandia, which separated from Australia and the rest of Gondwana some 60-80 million years ago. Wikipedia’s page… Read more »

Going (Lady) Gaga over ferns

The rock fern, Cheilanthes sieberi, a New Zealand relative of the newly re-named Gaga ferns. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

USA fern taxonomists have created a minor stir after re-classifying a group of central American ferns into a new genus named Gaga, after the singer Lady Gaga. Abstract of the article formally naming the new genus Gaga. Youtube video of the taxonomists discussing their research. The researchers say the naming for Lady Gaga was in… Read more »

Unravelling the secrets of a 200-year-old European Orchid collection

  • Orchis conopsea L. collected near Gottingen (Germany) in 1768. Photo CA Lehnebach, © Te Papa.
  • Orchis alata collected in France, 1st May 1867. Photo CA Lehnebach, © Te Papa.
  • Close up to one of the newspapers used to separate and store the specimens.
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Te Papa’s collection of pressed, dried plant specimens includes samples of native and exotic species collected in New Zealand and other parts of the world. Many of the foreign specimens currently in the collection were brought into New Zealand in the late 1870s to be used as reference material and to assist with the identification of… Read more »

Going International, Part II – What caught my eye at two recent botany meetings

Heidi Meudt on the botanical field trip to the "Mainzer Sand", at the “Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology" meeting, the 21st International Symposium of the German Botanical Society (DBG) , Sept. 2012. I am kneeling just behind the European plant species Veronica spicata. Photo by Aaron Liston.

Here are just a few of the many highlights from the two international botany conferences I recently attended: Botany 2012 (Columbus, OH, USA) and  Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology 2012 (German Botanical Society 21st International Symposium, Mainz, Germany). Plant identification goes visual, interactive and mobile Plant identification keys are useful when you want to identify an… Read more »