Finding and naming new species is a core part of the job for Te Papa’s scientists.  More than 2500 animal and plant species have been named by museum staff since 1865.  A recent example is the fern Asplenium lepidotum, described by myself and Pat Brownsey.  This brings the number ofRead more

Pat Brownsey is a fern specialist who joined the National Museum (now Te Papa) botany team in 1977, and is still finding fern mysteries to solve. Pat moved to New Zealand in 1973 after completing a PhD on ferns at the University of Leeds. The abundance and diversity of fernsRead more

Please note: This fern has since been named. The You Called Me What?! exhibition celebrates 150 years of scientific discovery at Te Papa. A big part of this has been the scientific naming of more than 2500 animal and plant species by museum staff since 1865. We’re now giving youRead more

Polystichum vestitum (prickly shield fern) new frond. Penguin Creek, North East Island. Image: Antony Kusabs, Te Papa

There are currently five recognised species of fern on the Snares Islands, the closest sub-antarctic island group to New Zealand. North East Island, the main island of the Snares group, slopes gently downhill from the tall, tussock covered western cliffs towards the forested east coast, creating four small catchments, which drain intoRead more

The Wellington Botanical Society has just added* (* actually it is confirmed, rather than added; see update below) another species to the list of native plants known from Wellington – the fern Asplenium lamprophyllum. To find (* rediscover) such a relatively big species so close to New Zealand’s capital city mayRead more

Underside of a rustyback frond showing the orange-brown hairs that give this fern its name. Photo credit: Lara Shepherd.

Whilst recently holidaying in Bristol in the UK I was amazed at the abundance and variety of ferns growing on the stone walls around the city. The spleenwort or Asplenium ferns seem to be the most common ferns of this habitat. This genus also occurs in New Zealand and includesRead 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

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