Past Events

Were native plants on settler’s farms in southern New Zealand used or abused?

Wednesday 10th of October 2018, 05:20 PM (10 months ago)

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

Speaker: Peter Holland, Emeritus Professor, Department of Geography, University of Otago.

By 1900, European settlers had transformed the terrestrial vegetation cover of the southern New Zealand lowlands. The extensive tussock, shrub and fern lands, with large and small expanses of closed canopy forest and wetland in depressions had almost disappeared, and in their place was a geometrical mosaic of crop land, improved pastures, hedges and shelter belts with a smattering of native plants and remnants of once extensive native ecosystems. Did anyone express concern about what was happening to native species and ecosystems in the south, and were landholders indifferent to native plants? With information from official reports, contemporary newspaper articles, and entries in late 19th and early 20th century farm diaries I shall show that settlers valued such woody plants as broadleaf, kowhai, and totara, and were reliant on forest remnants and shrublands to shelter and sustain livestock when feed was in short supply. At the same time, many settlers were draining wetlands, burning tussock, and clearing wooded and shrubby areas on their properties, despite what they could read in their newspapers about the national importance of conserving large and small areas of native vegetation. Did early settlers use or abuse native plants and ecosystems? The answer is more complex than many of us might believe.

Entries for the biennial Audrey Eagle Botanical Drawing Competition will be displayed and the prize winners announced at this meeting.

Field trip to 'Dogwood' at Kuri Bush.

Saturday 6th of October 2018, 08:30 AM (10 months ago)

Contact: Janice Lord | jlord@planta.otago.ac.nz | (03) 479 5131

Dogwood at Kuri Bush is a c.5ha remnant of mixed podocarp-broadleaf forest in a steep-sided gully on private land. It is in the process of being considered for a QEII covenant and one of the aims of this field trip is to contribute to a growing species list for the QEII report. The lower part of the gully at 20-30m above sea level is a kanuka-totara open forest with abundant lichens. Stock had access to this area up until c.15 years ago but regeneration is good. The highest point is 40m above sea level and the middle and upper areas have been fenced from stock for c.30 years or more. The size of many matai and totara trees suggests that core areas have never been cleared or logged completely. The gully itself contains typical species such as Fuchsia excorticata, Griselinia littoralis and tree ferns, but the slopes support less common dry forest with Hoheria angustifolia, Streblus microphyllus and Lophomyrtus obcordata. Two orchid species are relatively common – Pterostylis graminea and Corybas trilobus - and so far more than 20 species of ferns have been found. Bryophytes, lichens and fungi have not yet been explored. Birdlife is abundant with not only kahu, tui, bellbird, kereru, gray warbler and silvereyes but also shining cuckoo, the occasional falcon and possibly little owls. The stream is rumoured to contain koura but this has not yet been verified. Banded kokopu occur in a side catchment. Access is via adjacent paddocks and a narrow track that follows the stream up until the mid-section. Access to the interior of the upper area is via a marked route which involves some steep sections and stepping over obstacles. Good footwear is essential. For people not inclined to scrambling, many species including dwarf mistletoe and orchids can be seen from the margins. Field trippers are invited to stop for a hot drink at the house after the expedition. Meet at Botany Dept 8.30 am to carpool or on-site at 9.10 am (see location map). Rain date Sunday 7 October. Contact Janice Lord phone 029 4881900. See NatureWatch for a current local species list.

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17th Annual Geoff Baylis Lecture: Reweaving species: the key role of mutualisms in ecological restoration.

Wednesday 26th of September 2018, 06:00 PM (10 months ago)

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

Speaker: Janice Lord, Department of Botany, University of Otago. Location: Castle 1, University of Otago (drinks and nibbles starting from 5.15 pm in the concourse).

Recent years have seen native restoration and replanting projects popping up like mushrooms across the New Zealand landscape. Often the same suite of plants are used – Pittosporum, Cordyline, Phormium, Coprosma, Hebe – because they are easy to propagate and grow rapidly. But are we aiming too low? This talk will pull together current understanding of native plant mutualisms above and below ground, and ask how we can use this knowledge practically to move towards functional restoration of complex ecosystems.

We are planning to go to dinner afterwards to the Gaslight Restaurant, at 73 St Andrew St, Dunedin, 9016. If you would like to come, could you please let Robyn know by Tuesday 9pm.

Swampy Spur Wetland via Burns and Rustler Ridge Tracks

Saturday 15th of September 2018, 09:00 AM (11 months ago)

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

Is it a mire or is it a bog? Or is it a bit of both? As well as looking at the vegetation on the eastern slopes of Swampy Summit, this trip will look at a significant wetland located on the flanks of Swampy Spur. Wetlands such as this one were common in pre European times. Sadly, this is no longer the case and mires and bogs now only occupy a fraction of the area they once did. The trip will follow the Burns – Rustler Ridge tracks. Meet at the Botany Department carpark 9am.

Field Trip to Stevensons Bush Scenic Reserve

Saturday 28th of May 2016, 09:30 AM (3 years ago)

Contact: John Steel | john.steel@otago.ac.nz | 021 2133170

Probably one of Dunedin's least known and least visited public reserves. This substantial remnant of dry, coastal, native bush with some mature podocarps surrounded by regenerating trees and shrubs forms a large V-shaped gully from McGregors Hill down to St Leonards and is a remnant of the extensive forest that once covered the north-harbour hills. Access to the reserve is by climbing the boundary fence and can be quite steep in places; there arent any tracks! Leave the Department of Botany car park at 9.30 a.m. returning early afternoon.

Diversification of New Zealand Lineages

Wednesday 11th of May 2016, 05:20 PM (3 years ago)

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

Speaker: Gregory T. Nelson, MSc Student, Botany Department, University of Otago/Landcare Research. New Zealand has many charismatic plant lineages that have diversified profusely. Understanding how this process occurs contributes greatly to our understanding of the evolutionary history of New Zealand and the interplays between ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Using resolved phylogenies of representative New Zealand groups, I explore morphological and environmental differences between closely related species with the hypothesis that New Zealand's diversity of habitats have contributed to its diversity of species. 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.

Harbour Cone Bioblitz

Saturday 23rd of April 2016, 12:00 AM (3 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | djl1yttle@gmail.com | (03) 454 5470

Saturday 23rd—Sunday 24th April. Using the Pukehiki hall as a base, the BSO will run a Bioblitz as part of the 'Wild Dunedin' event (a three day nature festival with various groups and organisations coming together to host events celebrating Dunedin's natural environment and wildlife). Details will be updated on the Botanical Society's website and Facebook page.

BSO AGM and Photographic Competition

Wednesday 13th of April 2016, 05:20 PM (3 years ago)

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

A popular and eagerly anticipated event for anyone interested in botanical photography. Learn what makes a good photograph and how to improve your photographic skills from our panel of expert judges. The best photographs will be chosen for the BSO Calendar so this is your opportunity to have one month of fame. Start organising your entries now and dont wait until the last minute. 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.

Plants and People in the Pacific Past: A Microscopic Perspective

Wednesday 9th of March 2016, 05:20 PM (3 years ago)

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

Note: this talk is different to what was advertised in the Newsletter. A talk by Monica Tromp, PhD Candidate, Department of Anatomy, University of Otago. Colonization and settlement on the incredibly diverse islands of the Pacific would not have been possible without an intimate relationship with plants. A rather unconventional way of looking at this relationship is found within the mouths of early settlers. Microscopic remains of plants can be recovered from hardened plaque scraped off of ancient people's teeth to give us a better idea of what people ate and how they interacted with their environment. I will present highlights of my work from Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Vanuatu and New Britain. 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.

Taieri Mouth Track to John Bull's Gully

Saturday 5th of March 2016, 08:30 AM (3 years ago)

Contact: John Steel | john.steel@otago.ac.nz | 021 2133170

This track runs from Taieri Mouth upstream along the true right of the Taieri River towards Henley through native bush in varying degrees of recovery and includes some estuarine salt marsh and a fine example of native carr vegetation. The area has an interesting Māori and European history still evident in some of the landmarks to be found on the way. The track is in good condition and fairly easy. Leave the Department of Botany car park at 8.30 a.m. returning early afternoon.

Field trip to Borland

Friday 12th of February 2016, 12:00 AM (3 years ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | brownsteing@landcare.research.co.nz

Friday 12th–Sunday 14th February 2016. A weekend field trip to Borland in East Fiordland to explore the beech forests, lake margins and alpine areas. The area is rich in botanical and ecological history. A hand lens, camera and sense of adventure are a must! We will be staying at the Borland Lodge, so please RSVP to Gretchen Brownstein by 20th January 2016

Field trip to Old Man Range

Saturday 19th of December 2015, 08:00 AM (3 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | djl1yttle@gmail.com | (03) 454 5470

Joint trip with Dunedin Branch of Forest and Bird. The Old Man Range is one of the high, block ranges of Central Otago. The main summit plateau is above 1600 m and is of varied topography with bare, windswept slopes, snowbanks, gullies and wetlands each supporting different plant communities. We propose visiting the Hyde Rock area at the southern end of the range where we will be able to see representative examples of the different vegetation types. There are extensive snowbanks where Hebejeebie trifida, Celmisia haastii, Geum uniflorum, Ranunculus pachyrrhizus and Caltha obtusa may be found. The area is floristically very rich and despite being extensively botanised, there are a number of poorly known or undescribed species present. Examples recorded belong to the genera Myosotis, Ranunculus, Chionohebe, Cardamine and Luzula. To gain access 4WD vehicles are required. Places on this trip may be limited. The Old Man Range is a severe, high-alpine environment with high winds and very cold temperatures so warm clothing and good parkas are essential. Bring lunch. Leaving Botany car park 8.00 am returning late as we aim to spend as much time as possible in the field.

Allan Mere Award Ceremony

Thursday 10th of December 2015, 05:20 PM (3 years ago)

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

We are delighted to announce that Alan Mark has been awarded the 2015 Allan Mere Award for his outstanding contributions to botany over a life time of distinguished botanical work. Anthony Wright, President of the New Zealand Botanical Society, will be coming to Dunedin to present the precious greenstone/pounamu Allan Mere to Alan. There will also be a presentation entitled, "Images and Adventures", which will tell the stories and show the places where some of the photos selected for Alan's Book, Above the Treeline, were obtained. Everyone is invited to come and celebrate this special occasion in the Benham Seminar Room, Room 215, on the second floor of the new wing on the Zoology Building, 346 Great King Street, beside the Captain Cook Hotel. Please be prompt, as the door will only be held open until 5.30 pm.

The award-giving will be followed by our end of year dinner, starting at 7 pm, at Vogel St Kitchen, 76 Vogel St, in the warehouse precinct just north of the Cumberland Street overbridge and tucked in between the two one-way streets. Please let Robyn Bridges know if you wish to attend.

Field trip to Black Rock Scientific Reserve

Sunday 29th of November 2015, 09:00 AM (3 years ago)

Contact: John Barkla | jbarkla@doc.govt.nz.nz | (03) 476 3686

Black Rock Scientific Reserve (144 ha) on the Lammerlaw Range was set aside in 1971 to preserve an area of low altitude snow tussock grassland. The reserve consists of gently rolling ridges (690–770 m above sea level) dominated by narrow-leaved snow tussock (Chionochloa rigida) associations and with shallow gullies containing sphagnum bog and other vegetation communities. The reserve has been the subject of vegetation monitoring and study since its inception. A study carried out by Bullock in 1972 recorded c. 114 vascular plant taxa. We'll make a plant list during our visit and compare this with the 1972 list. Meet at the Botany department car park at 9 am. Return by 4 pm

Botanical adventures in the Russian Far East, from Japan to the High Arctic

Wednesday 4th of November 2015, 05:20 PM (3 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | djl1yttle@gmail.com | (03) 454 5470

Speaker, Dr Alex Fergus. Join Alex for a botanical adventure in the Russian Far East. For 14 weeks, over four years, Alex and a ship-load of botanical sympathizers (they had no choice) cruised thousands of kilometers along the entire eastern coastline of Russia. Our exploration begins at the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula, where we follow the Kuril Island chain, an active arc of volcanoes, south toward Japan and our southern-most point, Kunashir Island (44°N). The Kuril Islands astound with surprises, from abandoned soviet cities in sunken calderas, to Bamboo (Sasa) thickets under Larch canopies punctuated with Fritillarias and Trilliums. From here we head north along the east coast of Sakhalin Island and circumnavigate the Sea of Okhotsk, taking in the diverse Shantar Archipelago, before regaining the Kamchatka Peninsula and heading north. Leaving mainland Russia, we push seaward to the westernmost of the Aleutian Islands, The Commanders, treeless clag-cloaked islands with rich herb-dominated tundra, and the resting place of Vitus Bering. We return once again to the Kamchatka Peninsula and proceed to steam north along the coast for 2000 kms. Slowly, forests give way to tundra, as the permafrost thickens, and summer day lengths and temperatures truncate. Nevertheless, floristic 'spectularities' are still be found in the likes of Keyflower (Dactylorhiza orchids) fields and Brown Bear infested brightly coloured dwarven Rhododendron copses. Pushing north, we encounter some of Russia's richest coastal tundra on the southern Chukotkan Peninsula, where terraces dominated by pink Fireweed (Chamerion) and blue Monkshood (Aconitum) are beleaguered by the voracious appetites of gobbling hordes of Northern Pika (tiny-barking rabbits) and Arctic Ground Squirrels. Making our way through the Bering Strait we pass Russia's eastern-most point, Ratmanov Island (Big Diomede), an Alcid paradise, where Russia is separated from the US by only 4 kms. We follow the Russian coastline once more north and east, toward the vastness of Kolyuchin Inlet, a haven for waterfowl and migratory waders, where ponds of Mares-tail (Hippuris) give way to gravelly arid strips of lichens and what are typically alpine specialists (e.g. Diapensia), here, only a meter or two above sea level. Once again, and for the last time, we head north, really very far north, to Wrangel Island (71°N). On Wrangel winds buffer the Arctic Tundra, Muskox graze shrubby inland river valleys, and Polar Bears harangue Walrus in the surf. Here also, the last Mammoth, a miniature ginger variety, foraged a unique mixture of steppe and tundra plants less than 4000 years ago. With 420 taxa, Wrangel has more than double the plant diversity of any other Arctic island of comparable size. Wrangel has more endemic plant species than all of Greenland, and is home to 24 rare Arctic endemics, many of which are relic Pleistocene species from the all but lost Beringian Land Bridge. Wrangel Island is the pinnacle of our Russian botanical adventure.

* Note, this talk will be mostly photos, it may include tastings of Labrador Tea, and for authenticity, we best follow it up with a small glass of vodka.

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.