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

Recently, Curator Invertebrates Entomology Dr Julia Kasper re-discovered a box of audio tapes stored alongside our entomology collection. They were recorded by Sir Charles Fleming in his pioneering study of our country’s cicadas in the 1960s and 70s. Intern Finlay Dempster explains the significance of these audio tapes and the man who made them.Read more

Do you dream? Do you know why you dream? What even are dreams? Dr Rosie Gibson, Senior Lecturer at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Massey University dives into the surreal worlds that we inhabit while we sleep.Read more

Tapa, or barkcloth, is an important textile in the Pacific. Tapa is made from the beaten inner bark of some plant species, but once the tapa is made then identifying which plant species was used is difficult. Our genetics researcher Lara Shepherd teamed up with Catherine Smith from the University of Otago and colleagues to create a DNA reference database for identifying the plants used to make tapa.Read more

Watercolour painting of a blue vase with thick branches of yellow blossoming flowers. Prickly thorns can be seen over the lip of tha vase.

In 2020, Te Papa acquired an 1897 watercolour painting by Margaret Stoddart that had been given the title Yellow blossom and rosemary by the cataloguers. But what are those blossoms, really? And is that rosemary in the vase, or something else? Here, Curator of Historical Art, Rebecca Rice unpacks the painting and suggests it could be somewhat pricklier than it first appears.Read more

Being in lockdown in Wellington didn’t mean an end to fieldwork for some of our staff. Botany Curator Leon Perrie and Researcher Lara Shepherd – who are in the same bubble – used their lockdown walks to collect roadside weeds for our herbarium. But what did they find within only a short walk from home?Read more