Aotearoa New Zealand has a plethora of weird and wonderful plants. The ferociously spiky speargrasses are some of our most distinctive plants and an iconic feature of New Zealand’s high-country, especially when flowering. Te Papa Research Scientist Lara Shepherd and Botany Curator Leon Perrie recently embarked on a new projectRead more

We are saddened to hear of the recent death of New Zealand botanical illustrator and author, Audrey Eagle (1925–2022).  Eagle was a talented artist, writer and botanical collector, whose careful observation, skill and determination over many decades brought forth several books, each containing beautiful and botanically accurate illustrations and descriptionsRead more

A white six-petaled flower on a stem. There's another flower behind it.

Massey University student Hayden Jones and Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach are launching a citizen science project aiming at solving the identity crisis that surrounds one of our most common terrestrial orchids and your observation could provide the clue to solving this taxonomic imbroglio. Maikuku – the white sun orchid (ThelymitraRead more

Recently the Botany team at Te Papa dedicated a week to curating several boxes of plant specimens – we called it the Botany Blitz! Our aim was to crack open boxes that have been patiently waiting – months, years, or in some cases decades – to be processed and databased. During our Blitz, we catalogued many specimens, learned new things about our collections, and discovered many fascinating stories along the way. Botany Curator Heidi Meudt processed one of the boxes from the botanist Thomas Kirk.Read more

When we think of Te Papa’s collections, we generally think of boxes neatly arranged systematically on shelves, everything in its place. But perhaps every collection / Collection Manager at Te Papa has a pile of material in boxes or on shelves in the ‘waiting to be processed’ category. Maybe this material needs more information, maybe someone else needs to look at it, or maybe it was put aside because it was ‘too hard’ or perhaps just forgotten about. Kaitiaki Taonga Collection Manager Bridget Hatton describes the Botany Collection’s recent Botany Blitz along with some of the findings. Read more

Museums are magical places where time travel happens almost on a daily basis and getting to know what our ancestors and their acquaintances were up to in the 1800s is not so far a reach. Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach describes how the discovery of a box full of seed packets stored at Te Papa brought a botanist, a nurseryman and his great-great-granddaughter together more than a century later.Read more

Bringing the swamp helmet orchid back from the brink of extinction is a mission that requires a multidisciplinary team of scientists, good eyesight and a lot of patience. There are only a few hundred plants of this species in the world; all of them are here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Curator Dr Carlos Lehnebach talks about his latest research to save this species.Read more

Members of our field team trekking across a steep and colourful scree in the Livingstone Mountains. Photo by Geoff Rogers January 2022.

In January 2022, our Botany Curator Heidi Meudt went on a chock-a-block seven-day field trip to Southland with Department of Conservation botanist Brian Rance and several others. The aim of this trip was to collect several species of forget-me-nots growing in the ultramafic Livingstone Mountains and nearby hills. Heidi talks about what they were looking for and the environment the forget-me-nots were growing in. Read more

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