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.
Three Te Papa botanists recently visited Norfolk Island together with colleagues from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Their purpose was to collect ferns for research. Curator of Botany Leon Perrie introduces the significance of Norfolk Island’s ferns. Our research programme investigating the relationships and naming of Aotearoa New Zealand’s ferns
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.
During our recent Botany Blitz where we were cracking open boxes that have been patiently waiting to be processed and databased, we catalogued many specimens, learned new things about our collections, and discovered many fascinating stories along the way. Botany Curator Heidi Meudt talks about delving into a folder of
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.
Last spring, Te Papa’s Leon Perrie, Lara Shepherd and Bridget Hatton travelled to Whanganui to collect plant specimens from the garden of the late Ian and Jocelyn Bell. Many of the plants in the garden are rarely cultivated in New Zealand and were not represented in our botany collection. Research Scientist Lara Shepherd takes us behind the specimen-collecting scenes.
Collections are at the heart of a museum. A museum’s exhibitions and research are built from its collections. The significance of collections means it is important to acknowledge those who have contributed. Te Papa’s Botany collection of plant specimens has recently seen notable milestones for two of its biggest contributors:
For many years, Te Papa botanists have included Otari-Wilton’s Bush collections in their research. Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve is a special place in Wellington it’s “the only public botanic garden in New Zealand dedicated solely to native plants”. This makes it an important educational and research resource
Where would you go to find a new species? Perhaps somewhere remote and little-visited, especially if it is ecologically unusual – New Caledonia maybe… Well, instead, how about inside Te Papa’s collections, because that’s where I first discovered a new species of Gleichenia tangle fern. A lot of biodiversity remains