Posts tagged with taxonomy

How many species of the confusing shrub toropapa are disguised in the bush?

Toropapa flower, Whangaroa. Photo by Leon Perrie. Te Papa

Toropapa (Alseuosmia) is a genus of shrubs found only in New Zealand. Toropapa has been confusing botanists for over 100 years because they show extreme variation in leaf shape – even between plants considered to be the same species from a single location! Te Papa scientists Lara Shepherd and Leon Perrie, along with the Department of… Read more »

What happens when you ask ornithologists to do botany

  • Myosotis capitata from Adams Island. WELT SP106541. Photo by Nicki Atkinson.
  • Myosotis rakiura from Curio Bay, South Island, New Zealand. WELT SP105593. Photo by Heidi Meudt @ Te Papa. https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/1591954
  • Watercolour painting of Myosotis capitata by Nancy Adams. https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/835481
  • Myosotis capitata on Ewing Island. WELT SP106542. Photo by Colin Miskelly @ Te Papa.

Bird experts Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson recently returned from a research trip to the subantarctic Auckland Islands. Although their main aim was to study birds, Botany Researcher Heidi Meudt sent them on a separate mission – to collect a rare flower. An elusive forget-me-not Myosotis capitata is a species of forget-me-not that is known only from Campbell Island… Read more »

Hit rate high in high-country forget-me-not search

  • Ant and Zuri have found the perfect spot to make some research collections for the museum, near Rainbow ski field, January 2017. Photo by Jessie Prebble.
  • 20170124_095127
  • Botany girl power! Zuri, Jessie and Heidi searching for Myosotis laeta in the Red Hills, January 2017. Photo by Ant Kusabs @ Te Papa (SP105625).
  • Ant finding yet another plant to add to the collection at Te Papa, Rainbow Ski Field, January 2017. Photo by Heidi Meudt @ Te Papa.

Field work is a key part of scientific research at Te Papa. Each year, Research Scientist Heidi Meudt spends about three weeks in the field collecting specimens for her taxonomic research on native New Zealand forget-me-nots (Myosotis). In January 2017, she travelled to three main areas in northern South Island (Cobb Valley, Mt Owen and ranges around… Read more »

Myosotis hunting in the deep south

  • Here I am making a research collection of Myosotis rakiura for the museum from Curio Bay, December 2016 (SP105593). Photo by John Barkla.
  • A little mud won't stop us finding the forget-me-nots... Although it might slow us down a bit. Here I am up to my knees in mud on the way to Doughboy Hut, Stewart Island! December 2016. Photo by John Barkla.
  • John and Mathew tramping between Mason Bay and Doughboy Bay on Stewart Island. We had to be completely self-sufficient on this part of the trip, each carrying about 15kg of food, clothing and botany collecting gear on our backs, and staying in DOC huts. December 2016. Photo by Heidi Meudt @ Te Papa.
  • A small clump of Myosotis rakiura plants on Solander Island, July 2017. Photo by Tim Poupard.

Field work is a key part of scientific research at Te Papa. Each year, Research Scientist Heidi Meudt spends about three weeks in the field collecting specimens for her taxonomic research on native New Zealand Myosotis. In December 2016, she recently traveled to the southern South Island and Stewart Island together with Collection Manager Ant Kusabs to hunt… Read more »

A new species of fern for New Zealand, Asplenium lepidotum

The abundance of scales on the upper surface of young fronds is a distinguishing feature for Asplenium lepidotum.  These scales appear as black dots.  Photo by Leon Perrie.  © Te Papa.

Finding and naming new species is a core part of the job for Te Papa’s scientists.  More than 2500 animal and plant species have been named by museum staff since 1865.  A recent example is the fern Asplenium lepidotum, described by myself and Pat Brownsey.  This brings the number of indigenous ferns and lycophytes in… Read more »

Botany travels: representing New Zealand around the world

Group photo at the International Boraginales Conference, just outside the Nees Institute, University of Bonn, Germany, where it was held. Sept 2016.

My name is Heidi Meudt and I’m a Research Scientist in Botany at Te Papa, currently doing taxonomic research on New Zealand’s native forget-me-nots. As part of my job, I occasionally attend scientific conferences in New Zealand and overseas. I’ve blogged before about some of the reasons that international conferences are important for those of us doing… Read more »

Fascinating forget-me-not pollen

myosotis-aff-pulvinaris-opt

Now that springtime is upon us in New Zealand, many plants are starting to flower, producing pollen. Many of us have a negative association with pollen due to its role in causing allergies [PDF, 172KB]. But not all pollen causes allergies, and pollen is of course extremely important to the biology and ecology of flowering plants. Some… Read more »

Unforgettable names for a new forget-me-not species

https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/visit/whats-on/exhibitions/you-called-me-what-150-years-scientific-discovery-te-papa

We asked you to suggest a species name for a newly discovered New Zealand forget-me not. In addition to some creative descriptive and geographic names, many of your suggestions were commemorative. The practice of naming species after famous people (real or fictional) dates back over 250 years. Are such names just a gimmick, or an effective means of promoting… Read more »