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.
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 (Thelymitra
Why is a specimen of New Zealand’s indigenous carrot on display at Te Papa for the next few months? Curator of Botany Leon Perrie explains. Among the most significant plant specimens in our care are collections made in 1769-1770 from Aotearoa New Zealand by botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Botany Researcher Heidi Meudt and Collection Manager Antony Kusabs made new collections of forget-me-nots and other plants at some stunning but remote South Island sites in Feb 2020. Take a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to do remote field work, and enjoy some of the rewards of their hard work!