My previous blog featured New Zealand native plants that are cultivated overseas. However, some of our native plants, including many of the species I recently saw in UK gardens, have gone ‘rogue’ and are considered invasive species in some countries. For example our pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas tree; Metrosideros excelsa)
New Zealand plants have a long history of cultivation overseas. In the UK one of the most well known New Zealand plants is the ‘Torquay palm’, which we know as the cabbage tree (Cordyline australis). Cabbage trees, which botanically-speaking are not palms, were first grown in the UK in the
What does a Te Papa curator do? I spent last week following Te Papa’s terrestrial vertebrate curator Alan Tennyson to find out. Here are some of the main highlights: Visitors Monday saw Alan meet with Trish Nugent-Lyne, a collection manager at Whanganui Regional Museum. Te Papa staff are helping Trish
The males and females of many bird species are difficult to distinguish by their appearance (peacocks are a notable exception). There are many situations where it is useful to know the sex of birds including captive breeding programmes, behavioural studies and even species delimitation in extinct taxa. DNA sexing provides
Recently I have been obtaining DNA sequences from some of the fern samples collected by Te Papa Botany curator Leon Perrie on his recent trip to New Caledonia. We aim to determine the relationships of these New Caledonian ferns to other ferns around the world, including those from New Zealand.
Whilst recently chasing seabirds on Titi Island we came across tree nettles (ongaonga, Urtica ferox) with super-sized leaves. The largest leaf we measured was 28 cm long, much longer than the maximum leaf length of 18 cm given for this species in the Flora of New Zealand. Perhaps the abundant
A number of biological specimens in Te Papa’s collection, particularly old specimens, lack information about when and where they were collected. This information may have been lost since the specimen was collected or was simply not recorded at the time. However, all is not lost! Sometimes we can use DNA
Little spotted kiwi only occur in New Zealand, where there are around 1500 individuals remaining. They are the smallest kiwi species, about the size of a bantam hen, and are very susceptible to predation by introduced mammals, such as stoats and dogs. Today they survive on predator-free offshore islands and