Past Events

Talk / Seminar on Wednesday 14th of September 2022, 06:00 PM (1 year ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Speaker: Heidi M. Meudt, Researcher Botany, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Location: Archway 2, 6pm

New Zealand is a main centre of Myosotis diversity, with about half of the c. 90 total species worldwide. Taxonomic revision is a high priority in New Zealand forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae), a genus in which most of the species are classified as Threatened, At Risk-Naturally Uncommon, or Data Deficient according to the New Zealand Threatened Classification System (NZTCS). The core focus of my research is to produce a taxonomic revision of all native southern hemisphere Myosotis species using analyses of morphological, pollen, genetic and field data. We aim to answer the following questions: How many native southern hemisphere Myosotis species are there? How can they be identified? Where are they found? What is their conservation status? Since starting on this project in 2010, my collaborators and I have revised two-thirds of the southern hemisphere species, with the remaining 20 species and tag-names currently under study. This research continues to contribute fundamental data to biodiversity knowledge and databases, and to the NZTCS assessment panel. For example, of the c. 1700 Myosotis specimens at Te Papa’s herbarium (WELT), almost 30% were collected since 2010, all are databased and imaged, many have been recently curated, and most are online, see here. In this talk, I will give a broad overview of the Myosotis research project results, discoveries, field work, and taxonomic implications to date. I will also highlight work-in-progress and future directions.

Biography: Heidi Meudt is a Researcher in Botany at Te Papa (since 2006). She completed her PhD in Botany in 2004 at the University of Texas at Austin, and was an Alexander von Humboldt Experienced Research Fellow at the University of Oldenburg, Germany from 2012-2014. Her main research focus is on the taxonomy and systematics of southern hemisphere plants, particularly Plantaginaceae and Boraginaceae. Her research integrates data from morphology, DNA, pollen, chromosomes and other sources to revise the taxonomy and better understand the geographical, morphological and phylogenetic patterns of plant species, especially New Zealand species radiations.

Field Trip on Saturday 10th of September 2022, 09:00 AM (1 year ago)

Contact: John Steel | | 021 2133 170

The Cryptogang – a group of enthusiasts who meet three times a week to explore the often ignored worlds of the cryptogams, including lichens, liverworts, mosses, and hornworts (as well as their larger, more obvious co-inhabitants) – invite you to accompany them into their fascinating and beautiful underworlds. Be prepared not to walk very far and bring a hand lens if you have one.

Leave Botany Department car park at 9am. Contact John Steel, or 021 2133 170

Field Trip on Saturday 13th of August 2022, 09:00 AM (1 year ago)

Contact: Moira Parker | | 027 328 4443

This trip we’ll explore a steep and rather hidden 5ha bush remnant, informally known as Rutherford’s Bush on the DCC Hereweka Harbour Cone property. John Barkla has written a report of the bush and his species list will be provided on the day. The forest trees are typical of the Peninsula, plus there are 11 species of vines and 22 species of ferns. The shrublands on the forest margin have a variety of divaricating shrubs and include 9 species of Coprosma. Two special features are a massive Dendrobium cunninghamii orchid growing on an ancient broadleaf and a flourishing Raukaua anomalus shrub, found during recent work to poison elder trees, the only major weed. The licensee supports a proposal to fence the bush to exclude sheep and cattle and efforts are being made to secure funding to fence this valuable forest remnant on public land. If we have good weather there’s the option of an afternoon walk up Harbour Cone through a mixed shrubland to investigate the miniature forest on the summit, so bring your lunch if you would like a longer day.

Meet at Botany Department car park at 9am or in Portobello on Highcliff Rd by the Penguin Cafe at 9.20am. Parking is limited so please car pool. Rain date Sunday 14th. Contact Moira Parker 027 328 4443 or or Alf Webb 020 4780 809

Talk / Seminar on Wednesday 10th of August 2022, 05:20 PM (1 year ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Speaker: Matt McGlone, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research.

As a successional tree species after fire or other disturbance, kānuka plays a key ecological role in the lowland and montane landscapes of New Zealand. It is also highly variable, with some populations contributing to lowland forest canopies 25 m or more in height and others consisting of scattered, low-growing, multi-stemmed shrubs on gravelly soils in frosty basins. Until recently, two species and several varieties were formally recognized - along with a swag of tag names. In 2014, a comprehensive revision of the kānuka group attempted to rationalize the situation and expanded the number of species to 10. The revision has had a mixed reception with many of the species proving difficult to confidently identify whether in the field or herbarium. In this talk I will present the results of a recently published genetic study of nearly 900 kānuka specimens spanning the entire geographic range of the complex and all the current species. I will discuss the implications for kānuka taxonomy but also for how we decide what is and what is not a ‘species’.

NOTE: New meeting location! Talks are hosted by Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research in the Main Seminar room, 764 Cumberland Street, Dunedin

Field Trip on Saturday 16th of July 2022, 09:30 AM (1 year ago)

Contact: Lydia Turley

Last winter we had a very successful trip to Mt Kettle and Mt Cutten. This year we will visit the neighbouring peak, Mihiwaka. Come prepared for an uphill walk on an uneven track and boggy conditions. We will see what we see. Contact Lydia Turley 021 062 3602

Talk / Seminar on Wednesday 13th of July 2022, 05:20 PM (1 year ago)

Contact: Jessica Paull, Shar Matthias

This talk will be held via zoom only due to due to Covid case numbers and the nasty weather forecast to continue into tomorrow.

Jess: A unique patch of land in Portobello is set to be the new study site for future ecology students. Jessica describes the process of documenting the plant species diversity and abundance in four different zones over summer, and the surprising discoveries she made along the way.

Shar: We know what climate change is, but it's harder to predict exactly what changes in temperature and precipitation will mean for species and ecosystems. During my Honours research I used statistical modelling techniques to show how future climate change will affect which parts of New Zealand contain suitable habitat for southern beech species and their associated fungi. This talk will describe some of what I found, and what these climate changes mean for New Zealand ecosystems as a whole.

Field Trip on Saturday 18th of June 2022, 09:00 AM (1 year ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

We will explore around Bull Creek and its small attractive estuary. Southern rata dominated forest extends down the creek to the coast. There is potential to find turf communities in the estuary. We will follow a walking track up the creek to a small waterfall before returning to the coast to explore the turf communities and other coastal surprises. Grade: ~2km of walking on a well formed track, expect mud and uneven ground. Bring water, lunch, and warm clothing. Depart Botany car park at 9 am returning mid-afternoon.

Talk / Seminar on Wednesday 8th of June 2022, 05:30 PM (1 year ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Speaker: Bill Lee (with Jennifer Bannister and Tammo Reichgelt).

Many NZ trees have toothed/serrated leaf margins and diverse explanations exist for their functional significance, mostly derived from overseas studies on deciduous species. We survey the leaves of forest trees in NZ, investigating the presence/absence of serrations and any associated leaf pores or glands. We also compare the environmental distribution of species with either entire or serrated leaves. Serrated leaves are associated with leaf-margin and leaf-lamina hydathodes, permanent openings generally larger than stomata that are frequently attached to major veins. They may also have colletors, complex glands that appear to secrete fluid. Our previous study in New Zealand showed that trees with serrated leaves were commonly associated with high rainfall areas. The strong association between marginal hydathodes and toothed leaves supports the suggestion that serrated leaves may have a key function in regulating internal plant water pressure on regularly saturated soils.

NOTE: New meeting location: Talks are hosted by Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research in the Main Seminar room, 764 Cumberland Street, Dunedin.

Talk / Seminar on Wednesday 11th of May 2022, 05:30 PM (1 year 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.

NOTE: New meeting location! Talks are now held at the Otago Pioneer Women’s Memorial Assn., Inc., Building, 362 Moray Place, Dunedin Central.

Field Trip on Saturday 7th of May 2022, 08:30 AM (1 year ago)

Contact: Matt Larcombe | | 027 919 9709

This trip will look at the vegetation change 108 years after a large fire burned through Libocedrus bidwillii cloud forest near Leith Saddle. We will walk up Leith saddle track and look at the nature of vegetation on either side of the fire boundary and I’ll talk about some student projects that have been investigating the demographic effects of the fire; and the longer-term consequences of the fire on the flammability of plant communities in the area.

Field Trip on Saturday 30th of April 2022, 09:00 AM (1 year ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | | (03) 454 5470

Okia is a large coastal reserve on the Otago Peninsula that is jointly owned by the DCC and Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. It comprises an old dune system that is rapidly changing from its dominant bracken fern cover to woody coastal species. There are also interesting hollows between the dunes that hold a variety of wetlands that include turf, bogs and ponds. On this trip we’ll focus on taking photos and making observations for iNaturalist The trip coincides with the iNaturalist City Nature Challenge where cities around the world compete to gather the most nature observations. Participants will find it helpful to download the iNaturalist app to their phone before the trip. Meet at Botany Department carpark at 9am or the Okia Reserve carpark at the end of Dick Road at 9.40 am. Bring lunch and expect to be back in Dunedin by 4 pm.

Social Event on Wednesday 13th of April 2022, 05:20 PM (1 year ago)

Contact: Lydia Turley

Instead of a talk, this month we are hosting a botanically themed quiz! It’s about more than just identifying plants, so brush up on your general (planty) knowledge and come have some fun. Come as a team, or join one on the night.

Field Trip on Saturday 12th of March 2022, 09:00 AM (2 years ago)

Contact: Robyn Bridges | 021 235 8997

The Botanical Society has been approached to help with species identification in an area of dune slacks which border Kaikai Beach near Heyward’s Point. Sue Chapman, the landowner, wants to place a covenant on the area adjacent to the beach. To do this she requires an idea of what species are growing there and in particular if there are any threatened species. We have permission to drive to the headland above Kaikai where we will park, and then it’s a shortish walk down through the farm to the dunes. Of interest to those who have not visited this area before is a large cave with historical links to early Otago whalers and that is still in use today. Meet 9am, Botany Department carpark. Rain date Sunday 13 March.

Field Trip on Saturday 12th of February 2022, 08:30 AM (2 years ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein | | 0210658497

Join us for a weekend exploring the varied vegetation around the Lenz Reserve and Tautuku. The reserve is 550 hectares of conservation land owned and managed by Forest and Bird. There is something for everyone here: old growth podocarp forests, beech forests, peat bogs, and estuaries. In February the ratas should be flowering, the fungi popping up and, if it happens to drizzle, the lichens and bryophytes will be at their best. There are numerous adventurous tracks or easy paths to ramble along and, for the aquatically inclined, a kayak option to explore the estuary. Gavin White, trapper for the reserve, will be our guide for the weekend. Gavin will show us the hidden gems he had found over many years of working the reserve. There are options for all fitness levels: from well-formed tracks on level ground to rough routes up the hills. We will stay at the Forest and Bird Lodge on Saturday night (costs $22 pp). BYO bedding, towels, etc. (more information about the lodge here: You will need to bring your own breakfast, lunch and snacks. Bring a dish to share at the Saturday night potluck dinner. Space in the lodge is limited to 14 people, so book your spot early! Contact Gretchen Brownstein for more information and to book.

Talk / Seminar on Wednesday 9th of February 2022, 05:20 PM (2 years ago)

Contact: Taylor Davies-Colley |

Speaker: Richard Ewans, Biodiversity Advisor, Dunedin City Council.

In 2019, Dunedin City Council commissioned a vegetation cover map for Dunedin City which was completed in 2020. The map provides a detailed picture of vegetation cover across Dunedin City that compliments and enhances data sets from regional and national agencies. Together this information will be used to identify priority areas for ecological restoration and protection, and for district-wide monitoring of the extent of indigenous ecosystems to support improved outcomes for indigenous biodiversity in the city. I will give an overview of the map and its potential utility for a range of users, show how the map is an improvement on what was previously available, and describe some of the limitations to be aware of when interpreting or using the map and underlying data.

NOTE: New meeting location! Talks are now held at the Otago Pioneer Women’s Memorial Assn., Inc., Building, 362 Moray Place, Dunedin Central.