Posts tagged with Australia

Dotted landscapes in Aboriginal art

Balls of grey-green grasses dotting the red earth of the opposing hillside across the valley. The scale is misleading – note the gum tree at top-centre. © Leon Perrie.

One of the sections in the current incarnation of the Ngā Toi, Arts Te Papa exhibition showcases a selection from Te Papa’s collection of Australian Aboriginal art. The show Gifted: Aboriginal Art 1971 – 2011 includes Papunya Tula paintings created in the 1970’s in a community near Alice Springs with a style of Aboriginal art… Read more »

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 »

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 »

Vampires in the leaf litter

  • A Dendrocnide stinger tree. This nettle-relative packs a particularly nasty poisonous punch if you have the misfortune to touch any part of it (including the trunk!). Not as ferocious-looking as our tree nettle, but I’m reliably informed the sting is worse. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • An echidna. A monotreme mammal like the platypus. Cute but spiky. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Spikes on the stems of rattan palms. These palms also had fine, hanging trendils, which were easy to walk into because they were hard to see, but difficult to subsequently escape because they had barbed spikes. Photos by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The impressively armed leaf of what we believe is a Solanum (relative of tomato, potato, and poroporo). Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

There’s trauma in this leaf litter – can you see it?! A downside to fieldwork in Australia is the number of things that will bite, impale, or otherwise injure. We had several wet days when the leeches were out in force. At one site, half of our group suffered a leech in the eye –… Read more »

Queensland fern fieldwork

Asplenium carnarvonense is only known from a few gorges in inland southern Queensland. The gorges provide respite for ferns and other moisture-loving plants in what is otherwise an arid landscape. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I was recently in Queensland, Australia, working with colleagues from the University of Melbourne to collect ferns for DNA analyses. We were principally after the spleenwort Asplenium ferns, and drove large distances in pursuit of the different species. 27 of Australia’s 30 species of Asplenium occur in Queensland, which has a rich fern diversity. New… Read more »

Australian cousins

  • 6.  Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.
  • 5.  Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.
  • 4.  Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.
  • 3.  Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.

During my recent visit to Victoria’s Alpine National Park in Australia, I was interested to see a number of familiar plants amongst the unfamiliar gum trees. Searching Victoria’s Alpine National Park for Asplenium hookerianum. Do you recognise any of these? A harder one to finish off. Answers: 1. Acaena novae-zelandiae, bidibidi, piripiri.  A species indigenous to… Read more »

Identifying Asplenium hookerianum in Victoria

  • Asplenium gracillimum (a hen & chickens fern), Alpine National Park, Victoria. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.
  • Polystichum proliferum (mother shield fern), Toolangi, Victoria. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie, Wellington.
  • Asplenium hookerianum (left top and middle) and Asplenium flabellifolium, Alpine National Park, Victoria. Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.
  • Asplenium flabellifolium (necklace spleenwort), Northern Territory, Australia. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Leon Perrie, Wellington.

From our search in Victoria’s Alpine National Park, we suspect the rare Asplenium hookerianum (Hooker’s spleenwort) is actually much more common there than previously recognised. But more searching is needed to confirm this.  Searching for Asplenium hookerianum in Victoria’s Alpine National Park.  Asplenium hookerianum can be distinguished from the other ferns it occurs with in… Read more »

Searching for a rare Australian fern

Asplenium hookerianum (Hooker’s spleenwort), Alpine National Park, Victoria.  Photo by Leon Perrie, Curator. © Museum of New Zealand.

While visiting family in Melbourne, I took the opportunity to go fern hunting. Asplenium hookerianum is a rare fern in Australia.  With Melbourne University’s Daniel Ohlsen and Mike Bayly, we went searching for the two populations recorded from Victoria’s Alpine National Park. How to recognise Asplenium hookerianum in Victoria. We were successful, relocating the known… Read more »

Desert ferns

  • Typical vegetation along the Larapinta Trail. Most of the green trees are gums. The grey trees are wattles. The low-growing clumps are ‘spinifex’ grasses. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.
  • Typical vegetation along the Larapinta Trail. Most of the green trees are gums. The grey trees are wattles. The low-growing clumps are ‘spinifex’ grasses. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.
  • Shaking Brake fern, Pteris tremula. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.
  • Marsilea ferns look like four-leaved clovers, and are principally aquatic. This one was in a watercourse that had dried up. Photo by Leon Perrie. (c) Leon Perrie, Wellington.

I’m just back from holiday in central Australia, near Alice Springs. Even though it was holiday, I was still plant-spotting. (I could hardly walk around with my eyes closed, could I?) There’s ferns even in the desert. Strictly speaking, it’s apparently an “arid” region, rather than desert. In any case, it was dry. But there were… Read more »