Research Librarian, Martin Lewis, explains why he’s been losing his marbles over marbling… One of the cool things about working in a 150 year old museum library is that you encounter amazing treasures and become obsessed about learning all you can about their construction, purpose or previous owners. One of myRead more

A highlight of my recent South Island fieldwork was helping to survey the last remaining New Zealand population of the liverwort Petalophyllum preissii.  It’s a distinctive looking plant, a bit like a little lettuce, and about the size of a fingernail. Seeing it was special because I likely won’t have theRead more

Increasing plant populations through propagation is one way to help threatened species.  Last week, Wellington City Council biodiversity staff collected cuttings and seed from several plant populations in the Te Kopahou area on the coast south of Wellington.  I tagged along. The targeted species Spectacular, steep habitat Wellington’s south coastRead more

Interesting and useful observations of life’s diversity can be made pretty much anywhere, anytime, and by anyone. Last January, I joined the Wellington Botanical Society’s exploration of the area around Nelson Lakes. One of our day trips was to the Rainbow Ski Field. Some of us clambered up to the mainRead more

The mining on Denniston has been given the go-ahead by the Environment Court. Radio New Zealand report on the approval of the Bathurst Escarpment mine. The mine application covers just over one square kilometre. According to a report by the Department of Conservation, there are within that area at leastRead more

The Escarpment Mine on the Denniston Plateau has been tentatively approved by the Environment Court, subject to suitable mitigation plans. One of the issues that may be under consideration is what to do about the site’s population of the Sticherus tener umbrella fern. Scoop news report: “…tentative nod for DennistonRead 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

The rare, tetraploid maidenhair spleenwort  (Asplenium trichomanes subsp. quadrivalens) has only recently been rediscovered in New Zealand.  Several people have contacted me with possible additional sightings. As described by the Scoop website, Jack Ritchie had a maidenhair spleenwort self-sow on a rock used to construct a water feature in hisRead more

The maidenhair spleenwort is a spleenwort fern (Asplenium) that (supposedly) looks like a maidenhair fern (Adiantum, see below). The 600 or so of the world’s spleenworts are characterised by having their reproductive structures in lines away from the margins of their fronds’ undersides. Two maidenhair spleenworts occur in New Zealand.Read more

I’m one of the Botany Curators at Te Papa, and ferns are one of my specialties.  New Zealand has about 200 native ferns, and some of them are very rare.  We recently rediscovered one rare fern that had been ‘lost’.  I was beginning to wonder if it had become extinct,Read more