In early December 2014, three Te Papa Botany Staff embarked on a 11 day field trip from Otago to North Canterbury. We collected specimens, images and DNA samples of native forget-me-nots (Myosotis) and New Zealand hebes (Veronica). See the first blog in this series for more detail.
Along the way, other native (and naturalised) species were also collected for Te Papa’s herbarium. All collections are now available on Te Papa Collection Online. Below are some highlights of naturalised (or weedy) plants we collected.
Our weed collecting included a roadside stop across the road from a cafe in Cromwell, Central Otago where we could collect plants and drink good coffee! Now that’s my idea of a good time.
The plant in the photo above is said by some, according to Professor Phil Garnock-Jones, to be the true Scotch thistle. I certainly prefer this species to the well known, more prickly scotch thistle and would even consider it for the garden.
Another great spot for weeds was Potts River, Canterbury where I could have botanised longer. With one more stop on our itinerary for the day and daylight running out, we had to keep moving.
When people think of weeds in New Zealand, they often do not think of ferns. According to Dr Leon Perrie, there are about fifty foreign fern species which have become naturalised in New Zealand. One very common weedy example is African club moss (Selaginella kraussiana). The fern pictured below is also one of the more widespread and obvious naturalised fern species in New Zealand. Here’s an older blog on weedy ferns by Leon.
We were also asked to collect material for DNA analysis and voucher specimens from three species of Tragopogon (Asteraceae) for colleagues at Massey University (Dr Jennifer Tate and Dr Vaughan Symonds). These very attractive naturalised plants from Europe have a scattered New Zealand distribution. These species do not usually hybridise in their native Europe, but they are known to hybridise in North America where they were also introduced. Finding out what they do in New Zealand will be part of the Massey Researchers objectives.
At the Te Papa herbarium, we are just as interested in collecting cultivated or naturalised foreign plants in New Zealand, as we are collecting indigenous species. We can use these specimens as a general identification resource, perhaps to compare with specimens from other districts. The herbarium specimens can also be a useful tool for tracking the rate of species spread through the landscape over time. And of course, taxonomists around the world are interested in species variations that may occur in New Zealand specimens, once established.
Thanks to the Department of Conservation, landowners and our volunteers, who supported us and helped make our field work possible.