An important function for Te Papa’s natural history collections is to document the plants and animals we have in New Zealand. What species are present, how can they be distinguished, and where do they occur? These questions need addressing before our biodiversity, both indigenous and exotic, can be managed inRead more

The last vestiges of light are fading over Paparoa National Park, Westland in the South Island of New Zealand. As the skies darken, a magnificent silhouette can be seen soaring above a small group of scientists. Soon one silhouette becomes many and within fifteen minutes of the first sighting, birdsRead more

Tutu. Photographer: Micheal Hall. © Te Papa&Ngati Toa.

Earlier this year we welcomed Ngāti Toa Rangatira into Te Papa to fill our iwi gallery and to be our iwi in residence for two and a half years. Together with iwi leadership from Ngāti Toa and Te Papa, the exhibition ‘Whiti Te Rā! The Story of Ngāti Toa Rangatira’, and a host of eventsRead more

The vascular flora of the Snares Islands is limited, at only 22 species (including one hybrid Poa).  Despite this, my first impression of the main island was an island covered with lush vegetation.  And there are still some botanical challenges – we failed to locate the fern Histiopteris incisa for instance. Read more

I’m just back from three weeks collecting ferns in New Caledonia. For a place so close to New Zealand (shorter flight time than to Australia), I knew very little about New Caledonia. I expect that is true for many New Zealanders, and it presumably reflects our very different cultures, notRead more

I’ve been enjoying our scientist’s fieldwork posts.  We have scientist’s photographs from several historic field trips in the photography collection.  My favourites are in this photo album from the 1907 Expedition to the Subantarctic Islands.  The Expedition was initiated by the Canterbury Philosophical Institute with support from the Government, and studied plants, animals, soilsRead more

Flowers of Myosotis aff. australis "white" from the Chalk Range, Marlborough, South Island (WELT SP090551). Photo by Heidi Meudt, copyright Te Papa.

This year I went on several field trips to collect native forget-me-nots (genus Myosotis). With my research on native plantains now finished, my current research focus is now to figure out how many native species of forget-me-nots we have in New Zealand, revise their taxonomy, understand their evolutionary history, andRead more

Te Papa Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey was recently contacted about a population near Levin of the very rare Ophioglossum petiolatum. Ophioglossum are odd looking ferns, as befits a common name of “adder’s tongue ferns”.  We don’t have a picture of O. petiolatum (stalked adder’s tongue fern), but the related O.Read more

Te Papa’s botanists made several significant finds during their explorations accompanying the recent Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop. Led by Research Associate Peter Beveridge and Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey, the moss Dicranoweisia spenceri was found in some abundance at the site we investigated within Tongariro National Park.  This is great newsRead more

In the next two weeks, some of Te Papa’s Botany staff will be looking for several poorly known mosses and liverworts. For instance, the moss Dicranoweisia spenceri was recorded more than 60 years ago from near Mount Ruapehu but it hasn’t been reported from there since – is it stillRead more

Myosotis petiolata var. pansa from the northern Taranaki coast, which we found and collected in Dec 2010. Photo by Heidi Meudt, copyright Te Papa.

Spring is in the air, and for botanists like myself that means it’s time to head out into the field to try to find and collect plant specimens for our research. This year, like last year, I will be going to specific places around the country to look for differentRead more