Monthly Archives: October 2012

5 posts

1. Lepidium oleraceum – Cook’s Scurvy Grass is of course not a grass but a large shrubby cress with a flavour not unlike watercress.

Remarkable and unexpected diversity of scurvy grasses discovered on the Chatham Islands

The New Zealand scurvy grasses (Lepidium species) include the famous Cook’s scurvy grass (L. oleraceum), a species which has gained almost legendary status as the plant that saved Captain Cook and his crew from the depredations of scurvy. Whilst modern research has shown that this is gross exaggeration it cannot be doubted that this plant and its allies were important green foods for not only scurvy ridden sailors but iwi (who in New Zealand knew the plants collectively as ‘nau’).

Chatham Island toetoe

Study reveals low levels of genetic diversity in Chatham Islands toetoe

A study just published in Pacific Conservation Biology reveals that the Chatham Island toetoe (Austroderiaturbaria) populations have very little significant genetic variation (Houliston et al. 2012). The discovery comes as somewhat of a worrying surprise to plant conservationists. Previously, without the ability to check levels of genetic variation the Department […]