Here are two striking and (I think) attractive Blechnum hard ferns. Nigrum is Latin for black.  Colenso’s hard fern is named after William Colenso – printer, missionary, politician, and naturalist – altogether a very extraordinary person.  Biography of William Colenso.  The “hard” part of the name comes, I presume, fromRead more

We have just described a new species of Tmesipteris fork fern. Fork ferns are odd looking and only distantly related to other ferns. We now recognise five species in New Zealand. There are only about 15 species around the world, with Australasia their strong-hold. The new species has been namedRead more

Measuring leaf width (in mm) of a Te Papa specimen of Plantago spathulata with a digital calipers. Photo © Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

As a plant taxonomist, most of my work involves determining how many species are in a particular genus of flowering plants, how they are related to one another, and what the correct scientific names for those species are. To do this, I gather and analyze data from a number ofRead more

Habitat of a native New Zealand hooked grass. Photo by C.A. Lehnebach (c) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Did you know that Hook Grasses can control water loss by folding up their leaves? Contrary to their common name,  Hook Grasses are not grasses but Sedges and they belong to the family Cyperaceae.  Sedges are commonly found in wet or poorly drained habitats. Hook Grasses, however, can be found in a much greater diversity of habitats.Read more

I was recently in New Plymouth, where I took the opportunity to visit Pukekura Park. Aside from its lovely cricket ground, the Park is of course notable for its plants. Pukekura Park website. One of the botanical highlights for me was king fern, probably best seen at the Park inRead more

New Zealand’s plants have a bit of a reputation for pronounced promiscuity. There is supposedly a high rate of hybridisation, or individuals of one species breeding with individuals of a different species. I’m not entirely sure that this reputation is nationally deserved. Nevertheless, a striking example of hybridisation occurs inRead more

This amazingly comprehensive compilation of archival material relating to William Colenso’s botanical collections has just been published by the New Zealand Native Orchid Group. The material has been researched by Ian St George and includes unpublished work by the late Bruce Hamlin (former Curator of Botany at the National MuseumRead more