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 well.
I focused on ferns during this pre-Workshop trip. Here are some of the ferns I collected. How many do you recognise? They are all common indigenous New Zealand species.
Te Papa had very few collections of these plants from the area around the Forgotten Highway. While preparing distribution maps for the fern treatments for the online Flora, this inland Taranaki/Whanganui area has appeared as a gap in species after species. Yet, the area contains a lot of forest, with a lot of ferns!
The poor representation in New Zealand’s plant collections of ferns, mosses, and liverworts from the inland Taranaki/Whanganui area has been substantially addressed by the collecting we’ve made during our trip.
For instance, within the 2400 square kilometres of the NZMS260 R18 (Ohura) and R19 (Whangamomona) map sheets, Te Papa held specimens of just five species of ferns. We’ve now increased that to over 60. And I know there are still more to find…