Future Events

Talks are held at the Zoology Benham Building, 346 Great King Street, behind the Zoology car park by the Captain Cook Hotel. Use the main entrance of the Benham Building to get in and go to the Benham Seminar Room, Rm. 215, 2nd floor. Please be prompt as we have to hold the door open.

Trips leave from the Department of Botany car park.

New Caledonia: a Botanist’s Paradise

Wednesday 11th of March 2020, 05:20 PM (1 week from now)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | brownsteing@landcareresearch.co.nz

Speaker: Peter Johnson, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research.

“A Botanist’s Paradise”: so-claimed in an interpretation panel at the Noumea Aquarium. Indeed: a challenging Paradise for a young NZ botanist visiting New Caledonia 40 years ago, accompanying a group of NZ entomologists. My role was to collect plants of interest to the insect people, and get identification help from the resident (French) botanists. This had the additional challenge of understanding, for example, that ‘Not-a-far-goose’ was Nothofagus (5 spp. there). New Caledonia has a flora of some 3000 taxa, compared with c. 2400 in NZ, being mostly woody spp. of rainforest, dry forest, maquis (ultramafic shrubland), and savannah (mostly niaouli, a Melaleuca).

In 1978 I had a camera for black-and-white film, and another for a strict ration of 35mm colour slides. Revisiting New Caledonia in 2019 with a digital camera allowed for many more snapshots, even if winter meant a limited number of plants in flower. But more than enough for a picture show: some of the 13 spp. of Araucaria, one of the 95 Pittosporums, the only other (non-NZ) Xeronema, bracken fern that looks like bracken, filmy ferns that are not quite familiar … and so on. Landscapes of misty montagnes, hillsides affected by mining, machetes, and the matchbox, localities with names like Riviere Bleue, Mont Koghi, and Dumbea. Plus road-signs, graffiti, markets, and cuisine … all in French. Join me for a travelogue. Warning: we’ll be driving on the wrong side of the road.

Field trip to Poolburn.

Saturday 28th of March 2020, 08:00 AM (4 weeks from now)

Contact: David Lyttle | djl1yttle@gmail.com | (03) 454 54750

We are planning to visit the Poolburn Reservoir in the upper Ida Valley. The reservoir was formed by damming the Poolburn during the Depression and gained some recent fame as a “Lord of the Rings” location. We will drive to Oturehua then to Moa Creek, where we will pick up the road to the Reservoir. The Reservoir is situated in a montane basin surrounded by tussock-covered schist ridges. The elevation is approximately 840 metres so should offer an interesting ranges of vegetation types. We will explore the lake-shore environment and adjacent wetlands with excursions on to the ridges and schist outcrops. BSO has not visited this location before so it is possible we may find something unexpected and interesting. If you are interested in coming please contact David Lyttle.

Quoin Point

Saturday 4th of April 2020, 08:30 AM (1 month from now)

Contact: Robyn Bridges | robyn.j.bridges@gmail.com | (03) 472 7330 / 021 235 8997

This trip offers another opportunity (a previous field trip has been to the mouth of the Akatore River) to look at the distinctive plant communities defined as coastal turfs. These salt tolerant (halophytic) plants are made up of low growing (generally less than 50mm in height), herbs, sedges and grasses, and are well adapted to living in the exposed marine shoreline locations, like this one on the southern Otago coast.

A search for the co-evolutionary partner(s) of New Zealand’s sequestrate fungi

Wednesday 8th of April 2020, 05:20 PM (1 month from now)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | brownsteing@landcareresearch.co.nz

Speaker: Dr Toni Atkinson.

New Zealand has long been known as a “land of birds”. The idea that the array of sequestrate fungi found here, many of which are colourful, may have arisen through coevolution with birds was first mooted in mycology around 20 years ago. It seemed a natural progression from the widely accepted hypothesis that New Zealand’s diverse divaricating plants evolved due to selective pressure from the now extinct moa species. The suggestion appears to have been taken up by mycologists, and is becoming part of the story of science in this land. Last year, an international team using high-throughput sequencing techniques to analyse the DNA in moa coprolites, revealed the first real evidence that moa may have eaten fungi.

But what happens if we take a fresh look at the whole question? Are moa the most likely coevolutionary partners of our sequestrate fungi, out of all the vertebrate and invertebrate inhabitants of prehistoric New Zealand? In this recently humanised but greatly altered land, it is challenging to hold in mind the relationships that might have played out over evolutionary time. What might we have missed?

BSO Annual General Meeting and Photographic Competition

Wednesday 13th of May 2020, 05:20 PM (2 months from now)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | brownsteing@landcareresearch.co.nz

The photographic competition is a popular and eagerly anticipated event for anyone interested in botanical photography. Enter your best photos and learn what makes a good photograph and how to improve your photographic skills from our panel of expert judges. Your photographs may be chosen for the BSO Calendar so this is your opportunity to have one month of fame. Start organising your entries now and don’t wait until the last minute.

Fungal foray to Racemans Track

Saturday 23rd of May 2020, 08:30 AM (2 months from now)

Contact: David Orlovich | david.orlovich@otago.ac.nz | 0211227230

We will explore local fungi with a morning foray along Racemans Track. The track passes through areas of kānuka, which hosts ectomycorrhizal fungi, so it should be an interesting and valuable site to explore. Wear all-weather clothing, walking boots and bring cameras and morning tea. We will collect in the morning, and then those interested can return to the Department of Botany at lunch time to prepare the samples for drying and lodging in the herbarium. Bring lunch if you want to stay to process specimens in Botany. Meet at the Department of Botany car park at 8:30 am or at the Silverstream car park on Silverstream Valley Road at 8:45 am. Return at 12 noon.

Sexy Lichens

Wednesday 10th of June 2020, 05:20 PM (3 months from now)

Contact: Allison Knight | alli_knight@hotmail.com | 027 487 8265

Speaker: Dr Allison Knight, Research Associate, Department of Botany.

The lichen symbiosis is extraordinary, intertwining organisims from two or even 3 distantly related kingdoms. Lichenised fungi are extremophiles, capable of living in environments well beyond the range of vascular plants. Some can even survive days or years exposed to the vacuum, radiation and temperature extremes of outer space! Intriguingly, lichens are very sensitive indicators of air pollution and can also be useful indicators of climate change. On the lighter side, the Sexy Pavement Lichen grows on the asphalt outside the Botany Department, and covers footpaths and roads all over New Zealand. It has been exploited by the unscrupulous, enticed the gullible and recently caused a global media frenzy.

Working morning at Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Saturday 20th of June 2020, 09:00 AM (3 months from now)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | brownsteing@landcareresearch.co.nz

We will spend the morning leading a hand at the ecosanctuary, helping with a bit of weeding and seeing if we can add to their plant species list. In addition, there will be a chance to see the Otago Rare Plants garden (which many of our members have contributed to) and perhaps spy a takahe or tuatara. Meet at Botany Department carpark at 9am.

Silken harp chords and the green choir

Wednesday 8th of July 2020, 05:20 PM (4 months from now)

Contact: Lydia Turley | lydiamturley@gmail.com

Speaker: James Crofts-Bennett.

The mutualistic relationship between the plant kingdom and the arachnid order Araneae is remarkable both in nature and how often it is over looked. There is extensive literary coverage on spider abundance and diversity in relation to vegetation texture diversity. So extensive is the research that beyond mere ecological significance, the relationship between spiders and plants has been adapted into agricultural practices! This talk will explore the theory, supporting evidence, then finally practical applications of exploiting this relationship. Research sites range from the William James building green roof to Orokonui ecosanctuary, grassy meadows to glorious podocarp forest and furtive fern villages! Descriptions of tiny tarsal claws guaranteed to make your skin crawl and close encounters with Aciphylla sure to incite sympathetic cringing! Come one, come all and behold the union of silken harp chords and the green choir!

Field trip to Tavora Reserve, North Otago

Saturday 11th of July 2020, 09:00 AM (4 months from now)

Contact: John Barkla | mjbarkla@xtra.co.nz | (03) 476 3686

Tavora is a coastal reserve near Palmerston managed by the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. Over more than 20 years the Trust has transformed the previously marram covered dunes into a showcase of pingao with many associated threatened species including shore spurge, Cooks scurvy grass and sand tussock. This is augmented with advanced riparian planting alongside the stream leading to the dunes. The reserve also has natural populations of the uncommon Aciphylla subflabellata, Lepidium tenuicaule, and Tupeia antarctica mistletoe hemi-parasitic on ribbonwood trees. We'll do an easy walking circuit of the reserve that takes in all the highlights. Meet at Botany Department carpark at 9am.