Linum (Linaceae) is a genus of about 200 species found mostly in the northern hemisphere though it extends into the subtropics and has representatives on most of the major landmasses of the world. Universally known by the vernacular ‘flax’ some species, notably ‘linen flax’ Linum usitatissimum produce fibres that are […]
The Chathams Islands group are the eastern-most expression of the New Zealand archipelago. Opinions vary as to the age of the current islands; geological evidence suggests that the current surface expression is anywhere from 2–3 million years old (Holt 2008) but the DNA evidence, based on molecular clock inferences indicates […]
Leptinella belong to the daisy family (Asteraceae / Compositae). As a rule, they are perennial creeping herbs forming a compact turf. Current estimates suggest there are c.33 species centred on Australasia with outliers in South Africa and South America. New Zealand has c.24 species, most of them endemic. However, the […]
During January 2007 the Auckland Botanical Society visited the Chatham Islands. During their visit the late Dr Ross Beever, then a mycologist working for Landcare Research discovered a strange, orange rust growing on cultivated plants of Chatham Islands forget-me-not (Myosotidium hortensia) within the visitor car park gardens, Department of Conservation offices, Te One, Chatham Islands
Last year the Chatham Islands lost one of its unique genera. The endemic Chatham Islands sow thistle was originally described by New Zealand botanist Thomas Kirk (1828–1898) as a new species of Sonchus, S. grandifolius (Kirk 1894). Then in 1965 botanist Loufty Boulos transferred S. grandifolius and the Australian endemic S. megalocarpus to a new genus Embergeria (Eichler 1965). Later Nicholas Lander (Lander 1976) transferred the Australian Embergeria megalocarpus to another new endemic Australian genus Actites leaving the Chatham Islands E. grandifolius the sole representative of the genus Embergeria, which by default was now a Chatham Islands endemic.
The May 2012 threat assessment of the New Zealand Indigenous Vascular Plant flora is now published (see de Lange et al. 2013). The list which covers the entire indigenous vascular plant flora, including that of the Chatham Islands and 166 informally recognised, ‘tag name’ entities is now available at http://www.doc.govt.nz/upload/documents/science-and-technical/nztcs3entire.pdf […]
As progress toward the preparation of a Chatham Islands Flora continues, the number of endemic vascular plants accepted for the Chatham Islands has now increased from 38 to 42 with the formal recognition of three new scurvy grasses and one new hook sedge (oft known as bastard grass) from the 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’).
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 […]