Megaherbs are a conspicuous, unique and important part of the subantarctic island flora, including on Motu Maha Auckland Islands. But what exactly are megaherbs? Te Papa Botany Curator Heidi Meudt shows some examples of megaherbs she saw on the Strannik 2023 Auckland Island Expedition, and discusses what makes them soRead more

From the first botanical expeditions to the subantarctic islands in the mid-1800s through to the present day, botanists have been intrigued by the subantarctic flora. The plants in many of these islands are most similar to those in the Aotearoa New Zealand flora, but some of the large and colourfulRead more

In January 2023, Te Papa Botany Curator Heidi Meudt was one of a team of Aotearoa New Zealand botanists and crew who travelled to Motu Maha Auckland Islands to undertake botanical research and make new collections. Here, she provides an overview of Motu Maha Auckland Islands, how and why they travelled there, and an introduction to this blog series about their 2023 Strannik Auckland Island Expedition.Read more

Three species of Aotearoa New Zealand forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae) have been described in a paper by Te Papa Botany Curator Heidi Meudt and her colleague, Jessie Prebble (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research). Each of these species is endemic to the South Island but has a restricted geographic distribution. Meet the new species below and find out how to recognise them in the field. All three species have also been beautifully illustrated by Bobbi Angell.Read more

Recently the Botany team at Te Papa dedicated a week to curating several boxes of plant specimens – we called it the Botany Blitz! Our aim was to crack open boxes that have been patiently waiting – months, years, or in some cases decades – to be processed and databased. During our Blitz, we catalogued many specimens, learned new things about our collections, and discovered many fascinating stories along the way. Botany Curator Heidi Meudt processed one of the boxes from the botanist Thomas Kirk.Read more

Jessie Prebble, former Te Papa/Massey PhD student in Botany, and Te Papa Curator Botany, Heidi Meudt (2016), holding a forget-me-not herbarium specimen. Te Papa

Taxonomic research involves a number of aspects, including field trips, lab work, studying and comparing live plants (in the field or glasshouse) or pressed specimens, and reading previous scientific papers. Not to mention analyzing and interpreting the data, incorporating previously published research, and writing up the results for publication. Sometimes, such research forms the basis of a post-graduate thesis (Master’s or PhD).  Curator Botany Heidi Meudt talks about one student’s journey.Read more

Myosotis antarctica Hook.f. subsp. antarctica, collected 15 December 2018, Mount Starveall Hut, South Island, New Zealand. CC BY 4.0. Te Papa (SP107322)

New research published by Jessie Prebble and colleagues resolves the taxonomy (naming and classification) of a group of small native forget-me-nots in the southern hemisphere. The new data show that some of these plants require different names. Curator Botany Heidi Meudt discusses what this means for their names.Read more

Members of our field team trekking across a steep and colourful scree in the Livingstone Mountains. Photo by Geoff Rogers January 2022.

In January 2022, our Botany Curator Heidi Meudt went on a chock-a-block seven-day field trip to Southland with Department of Conservation botanist Brian Rance and several others. The aim of this trip was to collect several species of forget-me-nots growing in the ultramafic Livingstone Mountains and nearby hills. Heidi talks about what they were looking for and the environment the forget-me-nots were growing in. Read more

Botany Curator Heidi Meudt and colleagues have published a paper on what is special about the diversification of plants on islands, based on an investigation of the five best-studied island archipelagos, including New Zealand. Read on to find out more about their findings on the role of whole genome duplication – also known as polyploidy – in these island floras.Read more