A key principle in the scientific classification of animals, plants, and other living things is that the system of scientific names reflects their relationships. This is because there is only a single evolutionary history, and it provides an objective basis by which to name life. As we learn more aboutRead 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

Alan Reynolds’s Saga is one of the paintings currently on display in Te Papa’s Ngā Toi exhibition. It is described as a winter landscape, with dead plants bursting from the frozen earth. Ngā Toi’s On The Wall description. Amongst the bleakness, my eyes are drawn to just-a-little-right of centre, whereRead more

Here are two striking and (I think) attractive Blechnum hard ferns. Nigrum is Latin for black.  Colenso’s hard fern is named after William Colenso – printer, missionary, politician, and naturalist – altogether a very extraordinary person.  Biography of William Colenso.  The “hard” part of the name comes, I presume, fromRead more