Past Events

Baylis Lecture: Down in the Weeds

Wednesday 13th of September 2023, 06:00 PM (2 weeks ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Speaker: Carol West. Location: Archway 4, University of Otago.

My journey with environmental weeds began with Botany Division, DSIR and Clematis vitalba in 1984, in the days of the Noxious Plants Act. It then continued throughout my roles in the Department of Conservation with a host of weed species, the Biosecurity Act, policy and strategy development, Standard Operating Procedures and science advice spanning the entire country and occasionally diverting overseas. I’ll cover some highlights/key points from this journey.

About the speaker: Carol West was awarded the Allan Mere in 2022 for contributions to the study and preservation of New Zealand’s flora for more than forty years. This talk will focus on one aspect of those contributions – management of environmental weeds.

Silver Peaks Possum Hut/Green Ridge circuit

Saturday 9th of September 2023, 09:00 AM (2 weeks ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

It’s going to be botanising on the hoof so to speak as we follow Gold Miners Direct from Steep Hill Road down to the north branch of the Waikouaiti River, then swing left following the river to Possum Hut (now a relic). Climbing up a steepish spur from the hut, we will connect with the Green Hut/Pulpit Rock track which will lead us back to the cars. It’s a good track, quite steep in places both downwards and upwards, but only for short bursts. The vegetation is quite modified comprising of regenerating coastal bush. Good footwear and appropriate clothing needed as the Silver Peaks is exposed. About a 4 hour trip.

Inland salines of the Maniototo

Saturday 19th of August 2023, 08:15 AM (1 month ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Leader Cathy Rufaut. On this trip we will visit two of the last remaining examples of inland saline and see some of the work Cathy and her team are doing to help restore and protect these naturally uncommon ecosystems. We will be visiting the Patearoa Inland Saline Wetland in the morning, then going onto the Belmont Inland Saline after lunch. Please bring a lunch, water, and warm clothing. Meet at the Botany Department carpark at 8:15am to carpool or 10:30am at Patearoa Inland Saline Wetland carpark. Travel: 2hrs / 150 km each way from Dunedin. Planned return time to Dunedin: 5pm.

Advancing the inland saline ecosystem

Wednesday 16th of August 2023, 05:20 PM (1 month ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Speaker: Cathy Rufaut; joint work with Dave Craw, Dhana Pillai and Steve Read (Geology Department University of Otago, QEII National Trust).   Early botanists surveying Otago’s inland saline sites for potential reserves noted their association with disturbance. Initial studies that followed made reference to replicating erosional processes to improve habitat condition. Some years later, DOC Alexandra set up scalped trial plots that had peeled back the layer of weedy vegetation. In 2021, we picked up the baton and developed the concept of induced erosion further as a method for rejuvenating inland saline habitat and controlling weed threats to native halophytes. This talk will present the rationale behind “scraping” saline sites, the processes involved in Otago surfaces developing high salinity and alkalinity, and an update from the trial sites we have established on private land.

Taieri River Track.

Saturday 22nd of July 2023, 09:00 AM (2 months ago)

Contact: Lydia | | 021 062 3602

We’ll follow the track from Taieri Mouth to the John Bull Gully picnic area for lunch (4 km), and then return. The track passes through several vegetation types, including estuarine salt marsh, carr (wooded fen), podocarp forest, and open shrubland. A highlight will be stands of regenerating kahikatea, as well as Hall’s totara, tree ferns, and miro.

The track is in good condition but is undulating, and cuts downhill to the picnic area alongside the river. Bring good walking shoes, water and lunch, and clothing for the weather. Meet at Botany car park at 9:00 a.m.; expected return by 3:30 p.m. 37km drive each way. If the weather is very poor on the Saturday, we’ll switch the trip to Sunday. Contact Lydia Turley.

Naturally uncommon ecosystems in Otago.

Wednesday 12th of July 2023, 05:20 PM (2 months ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Speaker: Scott Jarvie, Otago Regional Council. Naturally uncommon ecosystems are defined as having a total extent of less than 0.5% (i.e., <134 000 ha) of Aotearoa New Zealand’s land area. These ecosystems are rich in threatened species, but many are poorly understood and nearly two thirds are classified as threatened, primarily from human associated threats, with a large proportion of these ecosystems being found on private land in lowland and coastal regions. This talk provides an overview of naturally uncommon ecosystems in the Otago region and discusses recent work to establish programmes to monitor extent and condition, focussing on inland saline (salt pans) and coastal turfs. In addition to the overview on naturally uncommon ecosystems, I will briefly touch upon work for a regional threat classification for indigenous vascular plants in Otago.

Ferntree Reserve, Dunedin.

Saturday 17th of June 2023, 09:00 AM (3 months ago)

Contact: John Barkla | | 027 326 7917

Join us on an easy morning’s walk through Ferntree Reserve and adjoining streets. The small reserve, nestled between Taieri Road and Ferntree Drive, has a interesting array of naturally-occurring natives as well as planted natives and exotics. On its western boundary the reserve adjoins Dunedin’s oldest house, Ferntree Lodge. The walk should take no more than a couple of hours and is graded easy. Meet and park at the southwestern extension of Helensburgh Road near the entrance to Leslie Groves Hospital at 9 am. Leaders John Barkla and Sharon Jones.

Takahē, scouts for fungal diversity.

Wednesday 14th of June 2023, 05:20 PM (3 months ago)

Contact: Lydia Turley

Speaker: Josie McGovern. The study of dung has long been a revelatory science. Analysing the dung of certain organisms is a great way to gain insight into local fungal diversity. Takahē are a unique flightless bird, endemic to New Zealand. They exhibit a heavy grazing behaviour that encourages interaction with fungi and fungal spores. DNA metabarcoding of takahē dung collected from Orokonui ecosanctuary can teach us many interesting things about dispersal and fungal species important to our forests.

AGM and Photographic Competition.

Wednesday 10th of May 2023, 05:20 PM (4 months ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

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 Waikaia. POSTPONED TILL SPRING

Saturday 6th of May 2023, 12:00 AM (4 months ago)

Contact: David Orlovich |

Waikaia Forest at Piano Flat is an isolated remnant of the mixed beech forests (red beech - Fuscospora fusca, mountain beech - Fuscospora cliffortioides and silver beech – Lophozonia menziesii) that once covered much of the area. The area supports a unique invertebrate fauna with several rare species being found there. Beech trees are dependent on various mycorrhizal fungi for their survival and growth. We plan to look at the fungal diversity of this forest in conjunction with Prof. David Orlovich of the Otago University Botany Department as part of his ongoing research. The trip is dependent on a DoC permit, so will be confirmed closer to the date. For further details and to arrange carpooling contact David Orlovich.


Burns Reserve – one of Dunedin’s hidden gems!

Saturday 15th of April 2023, 09:00 AM (5 months ago)

Contact: Robyn Bridges | 021 235 8997

The 87 hectares of coastal podocarp forest which makes up this reserve, lies on the flanks of Signal Hill high above Ravensbourne, Maia, Burkes and St Leonards. Though established in 1907 by residents concerned at the amount of deforestation on the West Harbour Hills, the Reserve had, until recently, been largely forgotten. Its flora includes good specimens of the original podocarp forest and a fabulous swath of Easter Orchid, Earina autumnalis and Earina mucronata, growing on a prominent rocky outcrop. The views of Taiaroa Head to Taieri Mouth are spectacular.

Meet Botany Department carpark 9am Saturday 15th April 2023. Rain date Sunday 16th April 2023.

Members night.

Wednesday 12th of April 2023, 05:20 PM (5 months ago)

Contact: Angela Brandt | | 021 121 5657

Members are invited to bring items of botanical interest to the monthly meeting and talk about them. Items may be short slide shows, books, photographs, plants or any plant related object that has a story attached. You are invited to get in touch with Angela Brandt ( or Stella Fish (, who are organising the meeting, to chat about what you’re thinking of bringing or to let them know you want to present a slide show.

All day field trip to Rock and Pillar Range.

Saturday 25th of March 2023, 08:00 AM (6 months ago)

Contact: John Barkla | | 027 326 7917

Note: this date differs from that originally advertised.

We will travel to just north of Middlemarch to a carpark at the foot of the Rock and Pillar Range. From here the poled route of the Glencreag track is followed first through regenerating shrubland, then tall tussockland, and finally alpine cushionfield and rockland. Big Hut (1320 m above sea level) will provide a base for further exploration of the local botanical treasures. The return will be back the same way.

This is a steep and arduous trip of c. 1000 m height gain. Participants need to have good fitness and be capable of walking for 3 hrs or more uphill and equivalent downhill. Be prepared for all weather conditions in an exposed alpine environment. The vehicle round trip is approximately 170 km. Depart Botany Department carpark at 8 am. Expected return approx. 6 pm.

The coastal sand dunes of Otago.

Wednesday 8th of March 2023, 05:20 PM (6 months ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Speaker: Teresa Konlechner. Sand dunes are an important feature of the Otago coast. However, the sand dunes of Otago have experienced considerable modification over the last 100 years. Human-induced destabilisation followed by stabilisation by exotic and invasive plants have altered geomorphic processes and the indigenous flora of the dunes. This talk provides an overview of past modification to Otago’s dunes. It outlines the state of knowledge regarding the indigenous flora of Otago sand dune habitats and identifies priorities for conservation and restoration of these now uncommon sand dune species.

Tūhura Otago Museum.

Wednesday 15th of February 2023, 05:20 PM (7 months ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Come join us for a botanical trip through Tūhura Otago Museum on Wednesday evening. We will get to spend some time after hours with the museum’s gardener for a private look around Tūhura Tropical Forest which features over 70 mostly tropical plant species, plus butterflies and birds. Smaller groups (10 at a time) will get a further behind-the-scenes look at Otago Museum’s dry collections store which holds internationally significant collections of birds, marine mammals, invertebrates, and a small botanical collection which the museum staff is working to digitize and eventually make available online. Meet at Otago Museum foyer at 5:20pm.

Contact Gretchen Brownstein to RSVP. Space is limited to 30 people, so a lottery may come into play.

Tūhura Tropical Forest has been featured in recent programmes from Radio New Zealand ( and has been a frequent news maker in the Otago Daily Times since the space opened in 2007.