From the first botanical expeditions to the subantarctic islands in the mid-1800s through to the present day, botanists have been intrigued by the subantarctic flora. The plants in many of these islands are most similar to those in the Aotearoa New Zealand flora, but some of the large and colourfulRead more

Exotic species that spread into the wild are one of the pressures impacting the uniquely special biodiversity of Aotearoa New Zealand. Biosecurity measures are intended to mitigate this. But one aspect of the country’s biosecurity was recently criticised as patchy, limited, passive, and serendipitous.  Curator of Botany Leon Perrie andRead more

In January 2023, Te Papa Botany Curator Heidi Meudt was one of a team of Aotearoa New Zealand botanists and crew who travelled to Motu Maha Auckland Islands to undertake botanical research and make new collections. Here, she provides an overview of Motu Maha Auckland Islands, how and why they travelled there, and an introduction to this blog series about their 2023 Strannik Auckland Island Expedition.Read more

You cannot be much closer to extinction than the swamp helmet orchid (Corybas carsei), a tiny terrestrial orchid that is found in a single wetland in the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Fortunately, recently published studies, part of Te Papa/VUW student Jennifer Alderton-Moss’s thesis, are helping to understand how mycorrhizal fungi can be used to save one of our most threatened orchids. Jennifer Alderton-Moss and Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach describe the work.Read more

Three species of Aotearoa New Zealand forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae) have been described in a paper by Te Papa Botany Curator Heidi Meudt and her colleague, Jessie Prebble (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research). Each of these species is endemic to the South Island but has a restricted geographic distribution. Meet the new species below and find out how to recognise them in the field. All three species have also been beautifully illustrated by Bobbi Angell.Read more

The large-leaved Aciphylla speargrasses or taramea are difficult plants to collect. Their rigid leaves are tipped in a sharp point and the bracts on their flower spikes are similarly ferocious. These defences are thought to have evolved to avoid browsing by moa, but they also work against botanists! Consequently, speargrasses are under‑represented in plant collections (herbaria). Te Papa Research Scientist Lara Shepherd and Botany Curator Leon Perrie describe how they approached sampling speargrasses on their recent collecting trip.Read more

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