An infestation of a giant horsetail, Equisetum hyemale, has been found near Levin. It was spotted by eagle-eyed Department of Conservation staff. They gave us a specimen for Te Papa’s herbarium collection of dried plants.   No horsetail species occur naturally in New Zealand, but several have been purposefully orRead more

Most hen & chickens ferns in cultivation are the false hen & chickens fern, Asplenium ×lucrosum, rather than Asplenium bulbiferum.  The two are easily distinguished. Asplenium ×lucrosum is a sterile hybrid between Asplenium bulbiferum and Asplenium dimorphum.  The “×” preceding “lucrosum” indicates it is a hybrid. The two parent speciesRead more

I am helping to organise the 2009 John Child Bryophyte Workshop.   Bryophytes comprise mosses, liverworts, and hornworts.  The Workshop also covers lichens, and it provides a great opportunity  to learn more about these fascinating plants.  Novices are welcome, with guidance provided for beginners. The workshop will be based at Pukeora Estate,Read more

Chris Horne of the Wellington Botanical Society recently sent me a fern frond they collected on one of their trips. Although the frond is small and lacking the diagnostic reproductive characters, I think it is the introduced holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum). It looks like the shining spleenwort (Asplenium oblongifolium), but theRead more

The rare, tetraploid maidenhair spleenwort  (Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens) has only recently been rediscovered in New Zealand.  Several people have contacted me with possible additional sightings. As described by the Scoop website, Jack Ritchie had a maidenhair spleenwort self-sow on a rock used to construct a water feature in hisRead more

Science curator Leon Perrie explains ‘Punga’ is a quintessential Kiwi word used to refer to tree ferns or sometimes, more specifically, the trunks of tree ferns. Read more

Botany has recently acquired a unique collection: a special group of calcified red algae known as the corallines. Coralline algae are abundant and ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans, playing very important roles in marine ecosystems. The encrusting, or crustose, species can form unusual lumpy, warty-looking layers in the intertidal, sometimesRead more

The maidenhair spleenwort is a spleenwort fern (Asplenium) that (supposedly) looks like a maidenhair fern (Adiantum, see below). The 600 or so of the world’s spleenworts are characterised by having their reproductive structures in lines away from the margins of their fronds’ undersides. Two maidenhair spleenworts occur in New Zealand.Read more

Last weekend, when I should have been writing grant applications, I was dragged out for a bush-walk. However, my arm didn’t have to be twisted too hard, since it was a fine day and the track between Kiriwhakapapa and Blue Range is lovely (although steep). Alseuosmia pusilla was abundant alongRead more

Field-work is one of the best aspects of working as a Natural Environment curator at Te Papa. I get to spend about three weeks a year in the field collecting plant specimens. I’ve recently returned from ten days field-work in the South Island, collecting samples for our research on lancewoodRead more

I’m one of the Botany Curators at Te Papa, and ferns are one of my specialties.  New Zealand has about 200 native ferns, and some of them are very rare.  We recently rediscovered one rare fern that had been ‘lost’.  I was beginning to wonder if it had become extinct,Read more